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Thinking About Feeding a Raw Food Diet to Your Dog or Cat?

Thinking About Feeding a Raw Food Diet to Your Dog or Cat?

Feeding raw food diets to dogs and cats has been a popular trend lately, but there are some very serious risks to both your pet and your family that you should be aware of. For one, raw meats and eggs often contain bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Here are some additional raw food facts to keep in mind:

  • 20-35 percent of raw poultry carcasses test positive for Salmonella spp.1
  • 80 percent of raw food diets for dogs test positive for Salmonella spp.2
  • 30 percent of stool samples from dogs fed these diets test positive for Salmonella spp.
  • Salmonella outbreaks have been reported in dogs fed raw meat.1
  • Gastroenteritis (vomiting/diarrhea/dehydration) has occurred in pets fed raw meat.
  • Enterotoxins, which are protein toxins released by a microorganism in the intestine, can cause multiple organ failure.
  • Dogs can be carriers of salmonella without showing any symptoms.1
There are also physical risks to your pet such as the potential for raw bones to fracture teeth and perforate or obstruct the gastrointestinal tract. Nutrient imbalances in the calcium-phosphorous ratio3 in the diet are a significant concern in growing kittens and puppies. Raw diets tend to provide excessive amounts of vitamin A and D3,4 along with mineral imbalances, and this can lead to secondary nutritionally based diseases.

In addition, a risk of pet-to-people transmission of salmonella has been reported.5 High-risk populations include children, the elderly, people with immunosuppressive diseases, such as HIV, or those receiving immunosuppressive therapies.

Your local Banfield veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist can give you advice about the ideal diet for your pet.

Learn more
Visit our pet nutrition section to learn more about nutrients, ingredients and guidelines for feeding your dogs and cats. For more information on salmonella, feeding bones to pets or stomach issues in dogs and cats, read the articles below.

1. LeJeune JT, Hancock DD. Public health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to dogs. JAVMA. 2001;219(9):1222-1225.
2. Joffe DJ, Schlesinger DP. Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets. Can Vet J. 2002;43(6):441-442.
3. Freeman LM, Michel KE. Evaluation of raw food diets for dogs. JAVMA. 2001;218(5):705-709.
4. Food and Drug Administration. Center for Veterinary Medicine Guidance for Industry. Manufacture and labeling of raw meat foods for companion and captive noncompanion carnivores and omnivores. Accessed Feb. 8, 2012.
5. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Outbreaks of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium associated with veterinary facilities—Idaho, Minnesota and Washington, 1999. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2001;50:701–704.