Feeding raw diet seems so much more natural. It is “in”. Wild animals don’t receive processed and pelleted diets either. So, why isn’t raw diet recommended by most veterinarians?
It is a highly contested issue. There are different (and sometimes extremely strong) opinions among people and veterinarians. Years ago, we seriously contemplated to get a freezer for the front lobby and sell packaged frozen raw food. However we never mustered up the courage to do so. And I am glad we didn’t.
One of the most famous raw diets is the BARF diet (i.e. bone and raw food). It has gained popularity over the past few years with suggested benefits being a more ‘natural’ diet, helps cleaner teeth and a shinier coat and more.
However, feeding your pet raw meat can actually be very risky. The E. coli outbreak at XL Foods in 2012 just showed how careful we have to be with raw food.
To avoid contamination, uncooked pet food should never be close to your kitchen
Food that is used for animal consumption should not be anywhere close to your kitchen. Uncooked meat can be contaminated with different pathogens such as Listeria, Salmonella, E.coli, Toxoplasma gondii, Taenia tapeworm, Echinococcus and many more. It is a huge hygienic risk for you and your family. That’s the reason why both the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) discourage feeding raw diets. “We’re not aware of accepted processes that a commercial diet could go through that could ensure there aren’t going to be pathogens present,” said AAHA executive director, Dr. Cavanaugh.
These pathogens can carry a risk to the animal and to the person handling the meat. This is an even bigger concern in a household with children, older individuals or individuals who are immunocompromised.
Why aren’t wild animals getting sick from raw food?
An animal fed a raw diet can become infected with a dangerous pathogen but not all infected animals will show clinical signs. Therefore, if your animal does not show any signs of being sick, it does not mean that he or she is free of a harmful bug.
In addition, raw diets can be unbalanced – lacking the important nutrients the animal needs. It is next to impossible to calculate the exact amount of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, etc. Remember, pets tend to be fed the same type of food every day. For us humans, we eat a large variety of foods, and if we are short on one nutrient one day, then hopefully we make up for it the next day.
For pet owners who want to feed their animal a home cooked diet, we recommend following a customized balanced recipe designed by a veterinary nutritionist. There are a few reliable sources available and we are always happy to provide our clients with the required information to get them started.
I am glad we did not start selling raw diets. Imagine if only one family would suffer from food borne diseases caused by pet food we sold? We are here to keep pets and their families healthy.
Drs. Kineret Aloni-Goldman and Ernst Marsig
Compassionate Advanced Health Care for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.
Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic serving Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966.
Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.