The raw diet trend for pets has been increasing in popularity in recent years — at least among pet owners.
The popularity continues to rise, despite criticism from countless scientists and veterinarians. They say that bacteria found in raw food products could pose health risks to both pets and their owners.
Here’s a quick look into why embracing the raw pet food movement may potentially be ill-advised.
It’s More Natural, But Also Poses Risks
A common argument in favor of raw pet foods is that the diet seems “more natural” for animals. Some people believe that raw diets can lead to better pet health, and even remedy issues like allergies and skin problems.
On the contrary, many scientists claim there is a significant lack of evidence to support such benefits. And, despite research indicating no scientific evidence to back many of the purported health benefits, raw diets are increasing in popularity.
Raw diets are less likely to be contaminated or to contain a plethora of additives. Sure, there are definitely reasons to avoid certain processed foods.
However, raw diets raise even more safety concerns. A raw diet, they say, can cause a lot of issues from dental problems to gut injuries and other complications. Some raw diets also lack necessary nutrients, resulting in deficiencies that can cause growth problems.
While animals in the wild do eat raw meat, they also don’t often live as long as our pets do. On top of that, carnivores get nutrients from eating more than just the meat from a carcass.
Bacteria and Parasitic Pathogens
Additionally, a study published in BMJ indicates that raw diets likely contain bacteria and parasites.
A team of researchers in the Netherlands tested frozen 35 frozen raw meat-based diets from eight different brands. The results showed that the presence of pathogens in these foods was not uncommon. From E coli to Listeria and Salmonella, several bacterial strains were found. Results also showed the presence of parasites, too, like Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma gondii.
Just how many of these products contained parasites and pathogens? 23% of the products tested included a particularly nasty strain of E coli, 80% contained antibiotic-resistant E coli. More than half of the diets tested contained listeria, and 20% had salmonella.
In other words, the study highlighted that purchasing prepared raw diets certainly isn’t any safer than foods prepared at home by pet owners.
Raw Diets Discouraged
The American Veterinary Medical Association and the A.S.P.C.A. both caution against feeding raw diets to pets. U.S. Centers for Disease Control also discourages these diets.
In case you weren’t convinced by the health risks posed, you might want to check out the cost. the costs associated with feeding a raw diet can be pretty steep. And when it comes to raw meats, you often get what you pay for. That means that unless you’re ready to shell out the big bucks, you’re likely not getting high-enough quality ingredients.