Raw Food Diets & Your Pet's Health

Recent pet food recalls have prompted pet owners to consider the safety of the foods they are feeding their pets. The nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) warns pet owners of the dangers associated with feeding pets undercooked meat.

Is a Raw Food Diet Safe for Pets?

“We recognize some pet owners may choose to feed homemade diets in lieu of those that are commercially prepared, especially with the pet food recalls of the last month,” says Jay Stewart, DVM, Aumsville Animal Clinic, Aumsville, Ore. “The CAPC is posting this important alert due to the potential transmission of certain internal parasites and bacteria through the feeding of diets with raw meat sources. Pet owners need to be aware.”

Some parasites and bacteria found in raw meats can make pets sick and can be transmitted to humans (zoonosis). Cooking foods appropriately will help to kill parasites and bacteria and may improve the digestibility of the proteins in the diet.

“All dogs and cats should be fed a well-balanced diet regardless of whether it is commercially or home-prepared. Your veterinarian is the best resource for determining your pet’s dietary needs,” continues Stewart. “They may also be able to provide recipes for nutritionally balanced home-prepared foods. Any questions regarding proper diet should be directed to your veterinarian.”

Susan Little, DVM, PhD, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, provides additional suggestions for controlling parasites in pets and reducing the overall risk of exposure to zoonotic infection in humans:

  • Year-round broad-spectrum heartworm preventatives that control parasites that are transmissible to humans
  • Year-round flea and tick control
  • Annual physical examinations
  • Cooked food and fresh water
  • Annual heartworm tests
  • Annual fecal examinations for adult pets, more frequent fecal examinations for puppies

What Parasites and Diseases Are Transmitted by Raw Food?

Dogs

For dogs the parasites that pet parents should be concerned if considering a raw food diet include:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Trichinella
  • Protozoa
  • Trematodes
  • Salmon poisoning disease

Cats

Cat parents need to be aware that the following parasites can be transmitted through raw foods:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Trichinella
  • Protozoa
  • Trematodes
  • Toxoplasma

Visit the FDA’s website for up-to-date information on pet food recalls. Information on this page used with permission from the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
 

If you are trying to decide on the best diet for your dog or cat, contact our Cave Creek vets at Animal Health Services to book a nutritional consultation for your four-legged friend.