Raw diets for pets are in the news. Again.
We understand that there are pet owners who are sold on the idea of raw diets for their pets and we don’t expect to dissuade everyone from their conviction to the concept. However, it is important to understand the risks so that the decision one makes is fully informed.
Dr. Rebecca L. Remillard, owner of the Web site PetDiets.com and head of the company, Veterinary Nutritional Consultations, Inc., dedicated an entire session to raw pet diets during her day-long lecture I attended at the Louisiana Academy of Veterinary Practice meeting in March, 2014.
Regarding safety, USDA admits that there is contamination of the food supply for humans. Therefore, the preparation and feeding of raw meats to our pets exposes us and our pets to dangerous Salmonella and E. coli and other infections, which can sometimes be fatal.
With proper cooking those organisms would be killed.
Why chance it?
Major veterinary professional organizations have made statements discouraging the use of raw meat, including the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). The Delta Society Pet Partners Program precludes feeding raw diets, lest pets carry pathogens to hospitals and nursing homes where susceptible patients may become infected.
Cats are most likely to shed organisms in their stool, and owners may become infected while cleaning litterboxes.
While all meat and poultry products for human consumption and interstate commerce are subject to mandatory USDA inspection, inspection does not guarantee safety, nor does it make a statement about nutrition.
Thirty-six essential nutrients have been identified for dogs and 38 for cats. Homemade diets are commonly deficient in A, B, D, E, B vitamins, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium and selenium, Dr. Remillard relates.
As for the question of whether cooking destroys essential nutrients, “Analysis of known essential nutrients when comparing a cut of meat cooked vs. raw vs. rare after adjusted for water content is insignificant.” (USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference)
Dr. Kristen Frank, an internist with ASPCA in New York concurs, telling CBS News, “They [pets] can absolutely develop mineral deficiencies if they’re only fed a raw diet. ”
For pets needing a special diet Dr. Remillard can be consulted from her Web site and her recipe will ensure the correct nutrients are present.
Dr. Remillard can also provide the same service for a raw diet, instructing owners on what might be missing and what ingredients need to be added to bring a formula into balance.