Raw protein diet
Past proponents of raw food diets believed that this was the healthiest food choice for pets. It was also assumed that feeding such a diet would cause no harm to other animals or to humans. There have subsequently been multiple studies showing both these premises to be false. Based on overwhelming scientific evidence, AAHA does not advocate nor endorse feeding pets any raw or dehydrated nonsterilized foods, including treats that are of animal origin.
Homemade raw food diets are unsafe because retail meats for human consumption can be contaminated with pathogens. Studies that have been done on both commercially available and homemade raw protein diets have found a high percentage (30%–50%) of them contaminated with pathogenic organisms, and up to 30% of the dogs fed such diets may shed pathogenic organisms in their stool. Many of the pathogens found in raw protein diets can be transmitted to the human population by contact with the food itself, pet, or environmental surfaces. A disturbing number of these organisms have also been shown to be resistant to multiple antimicrobials.
Raw protein diets are now demonstrated to be a health risk for several groups, including:
- The pets consuming the diet
- Other animals in contact with these pets or their feces
- Human family members
- The public
People at the highest risk of serious disease from the enteric pathogens found in raw diets include those that are very young, old, or immune compromised. These are the very groups that are the focus of most animal-assisted intervention (AAI) programs. It is especially important that therapy pets involved in AAI not be fed raw protein diets.
AAHA is committed to the human community, the veterinary medical profession, our AAHA hospitals, and the patients we serve in recommending the best known medical practices using evidence-based medicine. We value the relationships between our pets and their families, along with the positive impact that they have on the larger population, such as in AAI programs. Feeding a raw protein diet no longer concerns only each individual pet, but has become a larger community health issue; for this reason, AAHA can no longer support or advocate the feeding of raw protein diets to pets.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians have both endorsed this statement.
- American Pet Product Association. 2004. “2003–2004 APPA National Pet Owners Survey.”
- American Pet Product Association. “Guidelines for the Manufacturing of Natural Part Treats for Pets.” americanpetproducts.org/law/lawlibrary_article.asp?topic=13.
- Billinghurst, Ian. 2001. The BARF Diet: Raw Feeding for Dogs and Cats Using Evolutionary Principles. Bathurst, Australia: Dogwise Publishing.
- Cantor, Glenn H., Stuart Nelson Jr., Jerome A. Vanek, et al. 1997. “Salmonella shedding in racing sled dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 9: 447–448.
- Caraway CT, Scott AE, Roberts NC, et al. 1959. “Salmonellosis in sentry dogs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 135: 599–602.
- Carter, Margery E., P. Joseph Quinn. 2000. “Salmonella infections in dogs and cats.” In: Wray C, Wray A, eds. Salmonella in Domestic Animals. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing: 231–244.
- Chengappa, Muckatira M., J.J. Staats, Robert D. Oberst, et al. 1993. “Prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat used in diets of racing greyhounds.” Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 5: 372–377.
- Cherry Brian, Amy Burns, Geraldine Johnson, et al. 2004. “Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak associated with veterinary clinic.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 10: 2249–2251.
- Clark, Clifford, Jane Cunningham, Rafiq Ahmed, et al. 2001. “Characterization of Salmonella associated with pig ear dog treats in Canada.” Journal of Clinical Microbiology 39: 3962–3968.
- Finley, Rita. 2004. “Salmonella in Commercially Available Pig Ear Treats and Raw Food Diets: Prevalence Survey and Canine Feeding Trial” (MSC thesis). Guelph, Ontario, Canada: University of Guelph.
- Finley Rita, Richard Reid-Smith R, Carl Ribble. 2008 “The Occurrence and Antimicrobial Susceptibility of Salmonellae Isolated from Commercially Available Canine Raw Food Diets in Three Canadian Cities.” Zoonoses and Public Health 55 (8–10): 462-469.
- Finley, Rita, Richard Reid-Smith, J. Scott Weese, et al. 2006. “Human Health Implications of Salmonella-Contaminated Natural Pet Treats and Raw Pet Food.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 42: 686–691.
- Finley, Rita, Carl Ribble C, Jeff Aramini, et al. 2007. “The risk of salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal 48: 69–75.
- Food and Drug Administration. “Guidance for Industry: Manufacture and Labeling of Raw Meat Foods for Companion and Captive Noncompanion Carnivores and Omnivores.” Revised November 9, 2004.
- Freeman, Lisa M., Kathryn E. Michel. 2001. “Evaluation of raw food diets for dogs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 218: 705–709.
- Galton, MM. 1969. “Humans and pets as sources of salmonellosis.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 46: 230–232.
- Galton, MM, M. Harless, AV Hardy. 1955. “Salmonella isolation from dehydrated dog meats.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 127: 57–58.
- Greene, Craig E. 1998. “Enteric bacterial infections—salmonellosis.” In: Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat. 2nd ed. Craig E. Greene, ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders: 235–240.
- Joffe, Daniel J., Daniel P. Schlesinger. 2002. “Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal 43: 441–442.
- Kahrs, Robert F., N. Holmes, George C. Poppensiek. 1978. “Diseases transmitted from pets to man: an evolving concern for veterinarians.” The Cornell Veterinarian 68: 442–459.
- Kozak, Mary, K. Horosova, V. Lasanda, et al. 2003 “Do dogs and cats present a risk of transmission of salmonellosis to humans?” Bratislavske Lekarske Listy 104: 323–328.
- Laboratory Centre for Disease Control. 2000. “Human health risk from exposure to natural dog treats—preliminary report.” Canada Communicable Disease Report 26: 41–42.
- Lefebvre, Sandra L., Richard Reid-Smith, Patrick Boerlin, et al. 2008. “Evaluation of the risks of shedding Salmonellae and other potential pathogens by therapy dogs fed raw diets in Ontario and Alberta.” Zoonoses and Public Health 55: 470–480.
- LeJeune, Jeffrey T., Dale D. Hancock. 2001. “Public health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to dogs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 219: 1222–1225.
- Lenz, Jennifer, Daniel Joffe, Michael Kauffman, et al. 2009. “Perceptions, practices, and consequences associated with foodborne pathogens and the feeding of raw meat to dogs.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal 50: 637–643.
- Leonard, Erin K., DL Pearl, Rita Finley, et al. 2011. “Evaluation of pet-related management factors and the risk of Salmonella spp. carriage in pet dogs from volunteer households in Ontario (2005–2006).” Zoonoses and Public Health March, 58(2): 140–149.
- Marks, Stanley L., Elizabeth J. Kather. 2003. “Bacterial-associated diarrhea in the dog: a critical appraisal.” Veterinary Clinics of North America Small Animal Practice 33: 1029–1060.
- Mead, Paul S., Laurence Slutsker, Vance Dietz, et al. 1999. “Food-related illness and death in the United States.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 5: 607–625.
- Morse, EV, MA Duncan. 1975. “Canine salmonellosis: prevalence, epizootiology, signs, and public health significance.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 167: 817–820.
- Morse, EV, MA Duncan, DA Estep, et al. 1976. “Canine salmonellosis: a review and report of dog to child transmission of Salmonella enteritidis.” American Journal of Public Health 66: 82–84.
- Murphy, Colleen P. 2004. “Occurrence of Antimicrobial Resistance in Selected Bacteria in Healthy Dogs and Cats Presented to Private Veterinary Clinics in Southern Ontario” (MSC thesis). Guelph, Ontario, Canada: University of Guelph.
- Pitout, Johann D. D., Mark D. Reisbig, Mike Mulvey, et al. 2003. “Association between handling of pet treats and infection with Salmonella enterica serotype Newport expressing the AmpC b-lactamase, CMY-2.” Journal of Clinical Microbiology 41: 4578–4582.
- Public Health Agency of Canada. July 2005. “Advisory: Salmonella infection in humans linked to natural pet treats, raw food diets for pets.”
- Sanchez, Susan, Charles L. Hofacre, Margie D. Lee, et al. 2002. “Animal sources of salmonellosis in humans.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 221: 492–497.
- Sato, Yoshihiko, Mori Tetsuo, Toshie Koyama, et al. 2000. “Salmonella Virchow Infection in an Infant Transmitted by Household Dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 62: 767–769.
- Schlesinger, Daniel P., Daniel J. Joffe. 2011. “Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal 52: 50–54.
- Schlultze, Kymythy R. 1999. The Ultimate Diet—Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.
- Segal, Monica. 2002. K9 Kitchen: Your Dog’s Diet. New Castle, DE: Doggie Diner, Inc.
- Stehr-Green JK, Schantz PM. 1987. “The Impact of Zoonotic Diseases Transmitted by Pets on Human Health and the Economy.” Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice 17: 1–15.
- Sokolow, Susanne H., Courtney Rand, Stanley Marks, et al. 2005. “Epidemiologic evaluation of diarrhea in dogs in an animal shelter.” American Journal of Veterinary Research 66: 1018–102
- Stiver, Shane L., Kendall S. Frazier, Michael J. Mauel, et al. 2003. “Septicemic Salmonellosis in Two Cats Fed a Raw-Meat Diet.” Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 39: 538–5
- Stone, Gregory G., Chengappa MM, Oberst RD, et al. 1993. “Application of polymerase chain reaction for the correlation of Salmonella serovars recovered from greyhound feces with their diet.” J Vet Diagn Invest 5: 378–385.
- Strohmeyer, RA, DR Hyatt, PS Morley, et al. 2004. “Microbiological risk of feeding raw meat diets to canines” (abstract 75). In: Program and Abstracts of the 2004 Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases (Chicago). Ames, Iowa: Blackwell Publishing.
- Taylor Mark B., David A. Geiger, Korinn E. Saker, et al. 2009. “Diffuse osteopenia and myelopathy in a puppy fed a diet composed of an organic premix and raw ground beef.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 234 (8): 1041–1049.
- Voetsch, Andrew C., Thomas J. Van Gilder, Frederick J. Angulo, et al. 2004. “FoodNet estimate of the burden of illness caused by nontyphoidal Salmonella infections in the United States.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 38 (suppl 3): S127–S134.
- Voisard Micki, Yogi Voisard. 2001. Becoming the Chef Your Dog Thinks You Are: A Nourishing Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Your Soul. New York, New York: Stray Dog Press.
- Wall, Patrick G., S Davis, EJ Threlfall, et al. 1995. “Chronic carriage of multidrug resistant Salmonella Typhimurium in a cat.” Journal of Small Animal Practice 36: 279–281.
- Weese, J. Scott, Joyce D. Rousseau, Luis G. Arroyo. 2005. “Bacteriological evaluation of commercial canine and feline raw diets.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal 46: 513–516.
- White, DG, Atin Datta, Patrick F. McDermott, et al. 2003. “Antimicrobial susceptibility and genetic relatedness of Salmonella serovars isolated from animal-derived dog treats in the USA.” Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 52: 860–863.
- Wright, Jennifer G., Leslie A. Tengelsen, Kirk E. Smith, et al. 2005. “Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Typhimurium in Four animal facilities.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 11: 1235–1241.
Adopted by the American Animal Hospital Association Board of Directors October 2011.