“Raw meat based diets are based on meat, bones, and offal (organ meats) that have not been cooked. They tend to be higher in fat, lower in carbohydrates, and can be highly digestible but raw foods (similar to cooked foods) are not all equal! They vary in ingredients, energy content, and nutritional profile.
There is no evidence that raw meat-based diets provide health benefits over commercial or balanced homemade cooked diets and there is growing evidence that feeding raw meat can be a health risk both for the pet and the owner. They have a high risk of bacterial contamination and can harbour various bacteria, including pathogens.”
Pet mince purchased from pet supply shops may also include unacknowledged preservatives. While many brands claim to be preservative free, studies have shown that over 80% of products do contain preservatives in some form.
Pet carers and other people in the household can be infected by handling the food or the pet’s stools. Individuals with a compromised immune system are more at risk (e.g. small children, pregnant people, the elderly and individuals with illnesses or on certain medications), even if they are not actively feeding the pet and zoonotic parasites can be found in raw meat based diets. Pathogenic bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium, from raw ingredients, can lead to potential health risks for vulnerable individuals living in the household/ Sources of contamination can include dishes used to prepare and feed raw foods, the food itself, and the pet’s saliva and faeces.
Even with proper food preparation and handling of stools, the risk of bacterial contamination and infection of both pets and humans in the household is a real risk. Households that include immunocompromised, elderly, and/or young children should not feed any raw meat products to their dogs or cats.
Are raw diets beneficial for dogs and cats?
Advocates for raw meat feeding will claim that the benefits of raw diets are that it is a more “natural” or “evolutionary correct” dietary option, but this is not backed by science. Nutritional deficiencies can occur if the diet is not formulated properly. As an example, if you fed raw liver to your cat daily as a main ingredient that cat would be likely to develop VitA toxicity.
Bones are offered to pets for enjoyment and for perceived dental benefits, however, they can result in broken teeth, intestinal or oesophageal obstruction, and constipation.
At the Belmont Vet Centre, we believe that feeding appropriate bones can have positive benefits for your pet’s dental health, provided that are given RAW, under supervision and should always be wider than the mouth of your dog. We recommend lamb flaps for smaller dogs and brisket bones for larger dogs.
Bones are high calorie and we therefore recommend substituting a bone for a meal and only doing so intermittently.