January 28, 2024

The Truth about Raw Diets

Raw diets are something that we occasionally get asked about. There is a lot of hype on the internet about this. Some of it is marketers and some is from pet owners. A large portion of the concern is about bacterial contamination. Salmonella and listeria can create issues for the entire household. There are also parasites that can be spread through raw diet such as toxoplasmosis. The truth about raw diets is that they do not come without risk.

Dogs can carry salmonella with no clinical signs and potentially spread the infection to people in the household. Some of the symptoms in dogs include inappetance (not eating), fever, diarrhea and vomiting. People can have signs of salmonellosis that include headache, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The CDC and FDA both agree that feeding a raw diet can potentially be harmful to both your pet and you. There is emerging concern for antibiotic resistant pathogens shed in pets fed raw diet.

As a veterinarian, I have certainly seen numerous broken teeth from chewing on bones. The presence of bones in raw diet can pose this risk. A lot of dogs will chomp down with their premolars and molars. They typically will fracture an upper fourth premolar which is a 3 rooted tooth. This is a large tooth to extract and one that they typically use for chewing. While a dog can still eat hard kibble after the tooth is extracted, this is obviously not ideal.


The truth about raw diets is that they don’t come without risks:

  • If you have eldery, small children or immunocompromised people in your household then you are certainly at a higher risk with raw diet
  • The risk is for both people and animals
  • If you feed a raw diet make sure to keep frozen raw food frozen, wash surfaces well and wash your hands thoroughly after handling food. Be cautious about kissing your pup on the face and especially about handling any dog feces.
  • Some pet food companies take efforts to reduce the risk of exposure to salmonella, but it’s impossible to eliminate this risk entirely.

My goal in writing this blog is not to elicit fear, but to express my concern about raw diets. If someone feeds raw diet and knows the risk, then that is ok. Life is sometimes about accepting or rejecting certain risks. As a veterinarian I would not feed my pets a raw diet and do not recommend it to my patients.

A good website to check out is the Worms and Germs blog written by a fellow veterinarian. You can also contact us (Gulf Breeze Animal Hospital) anytime to schedule an appointment if you have any more questions or concerns.

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