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Raw Food Diets May Be Dangerous for Pets

Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 11:45am

Just like fad diets for humans, popular diets for your pets come and go. However, there’s one particular pet diet trend that gives us pause: ASPCA experts say raw food diets for pets that include raw meat, eggs and milk may be dangerous for your furry friends. We typically recommend that pet parents opt for well-balanced, high-quality commercial and cooked foods instead.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) agrees. In studies published in AVMA’s journal, homemade and commercial raw food diets for dogs and cats were found to contain dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, just to name a few. Other tests showed that unprocessed food diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies or excess that can cause serious illnesses in pets. Also, pets chewing on raw bones can lead to obstruction or perforation of their gastrointestinal tracts, and fractured teeth.

If you don’t want to feed your dog or cat a commercial diet, consider a homemade diet that will diminish the risks of foodborne illnesses. These meals should be thoroughly cooked and need to be formulated by a veterinary nutritionist or by your veterinarian to make sure they’re nutritionally sound.

If you are passionate about feeding your pet raw foods, please consider the following tips.

  • Work with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet’s diet is nutritionally balanced.
  • Avoid feeding raw foods in homes with babies and toddlers (who put lots of things in their mouths), the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
  • Practice regular hand washing before and after feeding pets.
  • Practice appropriate disposal methods when cleaning up pet feces.

For more information about pet-safe diets, consult your veterinarian and check out our complete list of people foods that are dangerous to pets.

Tell us in the comments below: Do you feed your pet raw foods or a homemade diet?

Comments

Comments

Bess

Since to date to the best of my knowledge, no one has experienced any issues with diseases picked up from this raw food, and at least 119 people have been hospitalized from salmonella from kibble. How do you and the vets answer this question. Most of the information vets receive today on nutrition in vet schools comes from the big dog food companies. Do you think those companies are going to say that raw food is better?

Ronna Kabler, DVM

Is millions of years of wolves eating prey(ie) raw meat and bones
a FAD??

Or thousands of years of dogs eating prey (raw meat and bones) a FAD?
How about we look at all the contamination of Kibble that has led to countless illnesses and yes, even deaths of pets and people.

TokenSkeptic

The kibble contamination is a strawman to the real issue of raw food contamination. A shifting of the subject. We are discussing the dangers of raw food. Please try and keep on topic.

What is the average lifespan of a wolf vs. the lifespan of a kibble fed house pet? This is the same fallacy that the paleo diet is somehow better because it is what cavemen ate. It is a naturalistic fallacy. Is all of the time humans spent as hunter gatherers healthier than current processed food diets? Well if lifespan is a determinate factor then no.

Martha

I am getting awfully tired of the fact that blogs and articles like the above one do seem to recognize the fact that many pet parents are well read and well educated about this topic and well aware of, for example, the danger of salmonella. I feed dumbed down! It is not discussed here why people (and some vets) still feed their animals raw. Apparently with good results. I really wish someone would cite some objective studies that examined this topic from a scientific standpoint instead of giving "advice" as to why it is or is not to feed raw. Then I will really learn something I didn't already know. I don't feed raw only because I am confused about the data, the facts. Again, it is the objective data that we need here, not someone's advice or opinion.

Deborah

I have a 15-year-old husky that is in prime shape. The reason is because of diet. He was born with epilepsy and his seizures are triggered by carb consumption. We figured this out when he was still quite young. As soon as we stopped feeding grain-based kibble, the seizures stopped. Rice is also off the menu. He has eaten a combination raw/cooked home diet all his life now and is the healthiest 15-year-old husky my vet has ever seen. I credit this solely to his diet. He is the same weight he was at 5 years of age. His teeth are in beautiful condition due to the raw bones he eats. He loves his cooked and raw beef, chicken, and pork, including organ meat. He also eats a small amount of vegetables, cooked or raw. I will never again feed my pets anything that contains corn, wheat or rice. I supplement with kibble now and then but it's always Blue Buffalo Wilderness Diet -- grain-/rice-free.

Venice05

My rescued senior are on prescription diets appropriate for the health conditions they arrived with, and they have made remarkable turnarounds. My younger dachshund eats a top-quality commercial food, and is in excellent physical condition. I have always worked closely with my veterinarian regarding appropriate foods, treats, and exercise for my dogs. I would never feed them raw food - yes, it's true that their wild canine ancestors ate raw meat, but our dogs are domesticated and no longer need to hunt for their meals. They rely on their owners for food, shelter, medical care, and love. High-quality commercial diets, developed over years of careful reseach and testing, are the best choice for keeping them healthy.

Jennifer Baker

I am not one to buy into dietary fads,whether it be for myself or my pets.In fact, I used to poke fun at the raw food movement. Then I adopted a dog with severe GI problems. I tried feeding him just about every healthy commercial food on the market--and I tried cooking his food at home.Still, he had frequent episodes of digestive discomfort--he even had to be hospitalized once. Then I bought some commercial raw food. Since then, his GI health has improved significantly. I don't want to give too much information--but commercial raw food are the only thing he can eat and not have bloody stools. I'm not a raw food fanatic, and don't think it's for everyone--but if it keeps my beloved dog healthy, then that's what I will give him!

Laura

I currently have 5 rescued dogs of varying ages and 9 rescued cats. All are on raw diet including bones and organ meat. Have never had any health problems that could be related to their diet. Several of my cats are 15 and 16 and you would think they were much younger. My Lab mix is 12 and keeps up with 2 Cairn mix puppies. One word of caution, always feed human grade meat from a source that you would chose for your human family.

Daniel Manasia

I regularly feed the cats a beat up raw egg, which they lap up very quickly. I haven't observed any health problems, and they've been eating eggs for quite a while. This is just a snack (only one egg). Their regular diet consists of a high quality wet food.

Ellen

It's funny that all the food and treats recalled almost one right after another these last few months (new one today with Yoghund) and years are ALL processed wet, dry and "treats" - NO RAW - and this ploy about the dangers of raw is only monetarily triggered by the donors to the AVMA - Science Diet, IAMS, Merial (vaccines), et al. If you've read any of the issues and transcripts, it's pretty clear once again to just follow the money.

I handle the raw food for the dogs like I do my own, and they also get green tripe. The biggest problems come from unsanitary eating conditions like not washing the food and water bowls, which is pretty much common sense since you wash your own dishes, right?

The next best option is home prepared food with human grade ingredients with proper supplements and probiotics like you do for raw feeding.

Do what you can for your pets and feel good about it, price is a big issue today, but raw is cheaper in the long run with fewer illnesses and vet bills. Regardless, just do some basic research like on Dog Food Advisor, and even if you stick with processed, make sure it's a good one and add digestive enzymes and probiotics.

Check in with a holistic vet and get on the right path for your animals. One good site is Mercola Healthy Pets and Dr. Karen Becker - good cookbook there also, and checking out Dr. Marty (Martin Goldstein) and his website, book, and veterinary practice website to learn about food and vaccines.

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