Raw DietsRaw food diets sound great for our animals, after all that’s how they would eat in the wild, right? Maybe not. There are two big drawbacks and problems with them that you should be aware of.

1) Balance and completeness. Many raw diets, especially those made at home or on a small scale are not complete nutrition for your dog or cat. Though food manufacturers may get a bad rap, under the guidance of AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials, www.aafco.org) have spent many years and much testing to make sure that the diets they provide complete and balanced nutrition and meet the guidelines that AAFCO has learned will provide your pet with everything they need to be healthy, whether they are a young puppy or an older cat.

At the clinic we have had experiences of growth deformities seen in puppies being fed a commercially made raw diet. What might be good for an adult dog isn’t necessarily enough for a young, growing pup. While you may think your cat can eat meat alone “because that is what she would eat if she hunted” it’s not that simple. When cats and dogs eat prey or carrion, they don’t just eat the muscle meat, they also ingest bone and cartilage, organ meats and skin, even the contents of their prey’s intestines, providing them with much more nutritionally than they would get from just the meat.

When selecting a diet, whether raw or cooked, canned or dry, frozen or fresh, look for the statement that the maker has formulated the food to meet the guidelines established by AAFCO for the species and age of animal you are feeding. If this statement is not there, be wary as they may not have done the necessary homework to give your pet a complete diet.

2) Bacterial contamination: Raw may sound better than the processed foods for providing your pet with good nutrition, but even the raw diets are processed and handled enough to create a risk of contamination. When meat is initially processed it is possible for bacteria to contaminate surface of the meat. When that meat is ground up, those bacteria get mixed throughout the ground product, giving them the perfect place to grow. The same can happen with vegetables and leaf greens when surface contamination not washed off gets mixed into the ground product that you will feed to your pet. The time from mixing to feeding is plenty of time for those bacteria to grow and replicate. Washing, cooking and pasteurizing food products will eliminate this risk without affecting the nutritional value of the food. Like mom always said: “Cook your food!”


Cat owners may have caught TB from their pets after feeding them infected venison as part of trendy raw meat diet

  • Experts led from Edinburgh investigated a TB outbreak among 47 UK cats
  • They had presented with lesions, breathing trouble, lethargy and low appetite
  • 83 further cats were found with asymptomatic TB following a screening process
  • Despite bovine TB typically coming from cattle, most of the cats lived indoors
  • The common factor between the cases was a diet featuring a certain raw food