Raw food diets are one of the latest trends for household pets, but it is not a new concept. People have used these diets for greyhounds and sled dogs for many years. It should be noted, however, that the risks of a raw diet outweigh any anecdotal advantage.
In 2004 the FDA developed guidelines regarding raw food diets, stating that it “does not believe raw meat foods for animals are consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks, particularly when such products are brought into the home and/or used to feed domestic pets.”
The complications that may arise from using a raw food diet are numerous. Safety is a major factor, especially concerning raw bone ingestion. Raw bones can cause injury and trauma to the mouth and throat. They may become lodged in the esophagus or GI tract and cause intestinal obstruction, GI perforation, gastroenteritis, septic peritonitis, fractured teeth, and even death.
Food-related illnesses are additionally a main concern when dealing with raw food diets. You must worry about contamination of raw ingredients by bacteria, parasites, and protozoa. These may cause vomiting and diarrhea in your pets, and though proponents of raw food diets downplay this risk, studies have indicated concerns. This is likewise a public health issue, as many of these bacteria and parasites have zoonotic potential.
Nutritional adequacy also comes into question when dealing with raw food diets. Many of these diets are neither complete, nor balanced and often do not meet the nutritional needs of your pets. Calcium deficiency in a raw diet can lead to decreased growth and appetite, bone mineralization, lameness, spontaneous fractures, and loose teeth. Large amounts of raw liver can cause vitamin A toxicity and raw eggs may cause biotin deficiency. Milk or other dairy products may cause diarrhea if given in large quantities and are not adequately tolerated by adult animals. Often supplements must be added as well, which are generally not needed if the diet is complete and balanced. Finding the right balance of supplements can prove difficult.
It should be noted once again that the risks of a raw diet outweigh any benefits it may claim to offer. For the safety and well-being of your beloved pet, it is recommended to keep her on a premium commercial diet that is 100% complete and balanced.