The bacteria can be picked up by human members of the household, making them very sick. These bacteria can pose a very serious health risk to children, the elderly, and anyone who is immunocompromised. Additionally, bacteria like Neospora caninum, Nanophyetus salmincola, and Trichinella spiralis are frequently found in raw meats and are capable of making the dogs themselves very sick. All of these bacteria are potentially life-threatening for your dog. In particular, if your home has children, infants, elderly, a pregnant woman, or anyone with a weakened or compromised immune system, raw pet food is especially unsafe and risky.
Case report studies of animals eating raw diets showed contamination with Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter jejuni or Toxoplasma gondii and increased numbers of infections attributable to Echinococcus multilocularis. These bacteria and pathogens also negatively affect the microbiome of the dog or cat by altering the balance of bacteria in the gut, and in turn, negatively affect gut health. Scientific published studies that document this include: Śmielewska-Los et al., 2002, Dubey et al., 2005, Lopes et al., 2008 Lenz et al., 2009, Taylor et al., 2009, Antolova et al., 2009.
Over the years, some raw food brands have implemented either irradiation treatment or high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) to their products before shipping as a kill step for any pathogens. Due to the nature of raw uncooked meats, once raw food diets are defrosted in your home, there is a significant risk of dangerous bacteria and pathogens developing very quickly. This is why raw food marketers direct customers to use the defrosted food quickly and not leave the raw defrosted food in your pet’s bowl longer than the immediate feeding time. Raw food serving also requires that you clean and disinfect working surfaces and utensils. Your pet’s food bowl must be thoroughly washed and disinfected after they finish each meal to prevent the growth and spread of harmful bacteria.
While there are plenty of personal opinions either way, among pet store owners, veterinarians, and bloggers, the facts speak for themselves regarding risks and nutritional deficiencies of feeding raw dog and cat foods. The FDA has issued numerous warnings regarding the risks of feeding raw pet food diets, such as this article: https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/ucm403350.htm
In addition, feeding your dog raw food with bones can cause choking, intestinal perforations and/or blockage, and damaged or
Veterinarian XRAY of ingested bones seen within the colon on dog’s radiograph
broken teeth. These are serious health concerns for dogs and are not to be taken lightly. Bones can cause obstruction or perforation of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or colon. As much as 80% of esophageal foreign body cases in dogs and cats reported in veterinary practices were due to bones ingested. (Multiple published studies by Rousseau et al., 2007, Gianella et al., 2009, Frowde et al., 2011, Thompson et al., 2012, and Freeman et al., 2013).
Feeding your pet a raw food diet can be difficult and challenging. In fact, nutritional deficiencies resulting from a raw food diet are frequent in dogs and cats. These deficiencies are difficult to diagnose and your pet could take months to show symptoms, making fixing them difficult. Finally, raw vegetables are notoriously difficult for dogs and cats to digest. Pets have a much easier time digesting veggies when they are cooked and ground, which makes the fibers and nutrients contained in them more available.
Undigested meats from raw food diets result in increased amounts of colonic compounds such as ammonia, phenols, indoles, and amines, which can play a role in diseases, such as colorectal cancer and other bowel disorders.
Inconvenience & The Ick Factor
Feeding your dog a raw food diet is not only dangerous but can also be very time consuming and expensive. Owners who wish to feed their dogs a raw food diet must be prepared to spend up to an hour per day preparing and feeding their pet’s meals. Furthermore, raw food diets tend to be extremely expensive. Feeding your dog raw foods can cost up to ten times more than feeding a high-quality kibble. Even if you have the time and money to take this task on, you must consider the above risks to decide whether this is worth it. Many consumers who try raw pet food end up switching back to kibble because of the “ick factor”. Raw food is messy, has an unpleasant odor, and is just gross. Any uneaten portions or even the empty bowl must immediately be removed from the floor and washed. For example, you cannot just feed your pet and leave for work in the morning. You need to wait until your pet has finished eating, and take up the bowl and wash it. Raw food left in a bowl for several hours quickly develops bacteria and dangerous pathogens, so you cannot leave raw food unattended.
Risks of Raw Foods and High Protein Diets
Some raw food diets are formulated with excessively high protein levels. Dogs have specific nutrient requirements for their health and wellness, feeding excessively high protein levels over a long period of time can be unhealthy for dogs. There have been studies in humans and rats that found a correlation between high levels of ammonia from certain high protein diets and higher rates of cancer. These cancer rates were attributed to high levels of toxins created by the higher protein, such as ammonia and other nitrogen components which build up in the large intestine.
Lucy Pet recommends moderate protein levels that meet the nutrient requirements of dogs, therefore high protein levels are yet another reason to avoid raw dog food diets.
Raw Foods are Improperly Balanced and Have Inconsistent Nutrition
Many raw diets suffer from nutritional imbalances. Leading nutritionists agree that it is very difficult to prepare a complete and balanced raw diet given the many issues that exist in its preparation. Even if a raw diet is supplemented with vitamins and minerals, it may not be properly mixed or blended to ensure even distribution of proper nutrients. Brands who claim to provide vitamins and minerals from the raw fruits and vegetables overlook the fact that most fresh fruits and veggies are nearly all water, so the amounts included are often just for marketing and are not at sufficient levels of inclusion to provide the necessary nutrients. For home-made raw diets, consumers also run the risk when adding their own produce since the produce may have already started to lose its vitamin/mineral potency from normal aging on the store shelf, as we are familiar with how quickly some produce wilts and spoils.