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Raw Pet Foods: What You Need To Know


One of the new trends in pet foods is feeding a raw diet. For some, this diet is based on that of wild species related to dogs. However, the differences in biology and lifestyle of these animals impose limitations on making such comparisons. Below, we’ll discuss common foods associated with raw pet food diets as well as the serious risks that come with feeding your pet raw food.

What Is A Raw Pet Food Diet?

Raw diets contain any or all of these ingredients: 

  • Muscle meat from pork, beef, turkey or chicken
  • Whole or ground bones
  • Organ meat such as kidney or liver
  • Raw fruit and vegetables
  • Raw eggs and milk
  • Unpasteurized yogurt

None of the ingredients are cooked before feeding the pet.

Is Raw Pet Food Good For Pets?

While the wild living relatives of our pets — like wolves and other close ancestors — may be accustomed to eating raw food diets, most of the dogs and cats we keep at home do better on commercially prepared formulas. Puppies, kittens and older dogs with digestive issues should never be given raw foods. 

Young pets can’t effectively digest the high phosphorus in raw diets, while the high protein in raw meat isn’t usually healthy for older dogs that have digestive organ dysfunctions. In fact, several medical studies show that there are no known health benefits to feeding pets raw diets.

Raw Pet Food And Risks To Humans

Raw pet food can pose severe risks to humans who come into contact with the pet being fed these raw diets. According to a study published in Vet Record, researchers found that raw meat diets had multiple types of bacteria that can be dangerous to both pets and humans. The bacteria found in the study have the potential to make both animals and their owners sick, especially if you regularly welcome wet kisses from your pet or routinely clean up after them.

At University Animal Clinic, our technicians and veterinarians wear exam gloves during any visit that involves a pet that has consumed raw pet food. Protection is needed to minimize exposure to potentially harmful bacterial diseases, parasites and other infections.

What Are The Risks Involved In Feeding Your Pet Raw Food?

Various risks are associated with giving a cat or dog a diet made from raw food, including:

  • Bacterial contamination: Salmonella is a common type of bacteria found in raw meat, and it has caused illness in dogs fed with raw diets. Found in 7-21% of raw pet food diets, Salmonella can also spread through feces and lead to an outbreak in the environment. Other harmful bacteria found in raw pet food diets include Listeria — which appears in 16% of raw diets — and Toxogenic E. coli.
  • Parasitic contamination: Toxoplasmosis, a harmful infection related to some raw dog food diets, is caused by a single-celled protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Other parasitic forms of contamination found in raw pet food include Sarcocystis, Cryptosporidia, Giardia and Echinococcus, or tapeworms. 
  • Nutritional imbalance: Some raw diets, especially homemade ones, may not contain all the nutrients pets need. This can cause harmful vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which can lead to growth and bone deformities in kittens and puppies.
  • Injury from bone fragments: Bones or bone fragments found in some raw diet formulations can cause teeth fractures or intestinal perforation or obstruction.

Call Us Today

For more information about healthy nutrition for your pet, call University Animal Clinic at (941) 253-5218 or schedule an appointment today. We offer professional guidance to pet owners who want to feed their furry friends the best diet. Visit our AAHA-accredited vet facility to get the highest quality of care for your pet.

What Our Clients Have To Say

Brought my baby ferret here, Dr. Sam was awesome about letting me ask all of my questions and giving me direct answers (really bothers me when we see a vet for our cats and can’t get clear answers).

Katie Martin

The staff and doctors were extremely helpful and kind. I feel confident in their ability to diagnose and treat my puppies. I’m so thankful they were referred to me by a friend.

Patty Sisson

Most caring and helpful Vet ever. The staff are amazing and are so wonderful with all pets. They take amazing care of my two fur babies. I wouldn’t trust my two pups with anyone else. You can really tell how much the love animals.

Jean Hamilton

By far the best vet I have ever been to! We just moved to the area and by some horrible chance had two pet emergencies in our first month with my pets, Moose and Thor. Not only did they get us in same day..

Joe R

Incredibly grateful to the staff of University Animal Clinic. We have been a customer for over 20 years. They were able to take care of our dog Duke today for an unscheduled appointment for UTI. Couldn’t imagine going to anybody else.

Ellen Wolak

Very welcoming right from the moment I made the first appointment. Due to the COVID virus, I could not go in with my cat to see the vet but she called me and we had a great conversation. They took some blood and a few days later the vet called me with the results.

Cara Pabis

Awesome reptile vet! I thought there was a problem with my bearded dragon so I made an app to bring him in. Dr. Sara was knowledgeable, professional, and down to earth. UAC is clean and doesn’t smell like urine whatsoever. I love coming here and will continue to bring my pets here.

Tresha Keener

This was Tanks first visit and will be his only vet from now on!!! They were helpful, informative and friendly!! Thanks to everyone who works there!!! Tank had a great experience!

Dean Gibson

Yesterday was our first visit to this clinic. I brought my 6 year old Goffin Cockatoo Chance in for a wellness check and nail trim and also to discuss her ongoing feather plucking issues. Dr. Leigh Samanowitz was Amazing as were all the staff.

Margie Bauer

We’ve always had a great experience at University Animal Clinic. The doctors and team are all very knowledgeable and friendly. They get back to you in a timely manner and work with you when it comes to scheduling appointments.

Natalie Platt
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