Should I feed my dog raw dog food?

Some people think that they should feed their dogs a raw dog food diet because it’s more similar to what a dog would eat in the wild. But the reality is that raw dog food does not always provide the nutrients your dog needs — and it can contain dangerous bacteria that is harmful to both you and your dog. Here are some of the reasons why you should not feed your dog raw dog food.

Raw food is more likely to contain dangerous bacteria like salmonella and listeria.

A study of pet food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that commercially available raw pet food was far more likely to contain harmful bacteria like salmonella and listeria than any other type of commercial pet food.[1] This type of bacteria can not only make your dog sick, but it can also infect you. Even if you’re careful when you’re handling raw dog food, your dog can transfer bacteria by touching or licking you long after he’s eaten.

Most raw food diets don’t provide the complete and balanced nutrition your dog needs.

Your dog can’t get all of the nutrients he needs from raw meat. In reality, wild dogs get some of their nutrients from plants too. And as unappetizing as it sounds, wild dogs often eat the whole animal, bones and intestinal contents included. That way they get some of the nutrients they need like calcium, which isn’t abundant in meat.

Pet owners who try to approximate a dog’s wild diet may not have the nutritional expertise or resources to formulate a complete and balanced raw dog food. There are a lot of misconceptions about what a dog’s wild diet should look like. For example, many people believe that dogs only eat raw meat in the wild, but a 2013 study published in the scientific journal Nature found certain differences between wolves and the early ancestors of modern dogs.[2] These adaptations allow dogs to thrive on a diet that contains starches — not just raw meat. 

Dogs have complicated nutritional needs, and unless they’re formulated correctly, raw dog food recipes can lead to nutritional deficiencies and illness.

The FDA, the CDC, and the AVMA all have come out against raw food for dogs.

All three of these agencies and organizations have spoken out about the dangers of feeding your dog a raw dog food diet. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that raw diets are “not recommended,”[3] and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) “discourages” a raw food diet for dogs. [4]

There are a lot of trends and fads in dog food, and not all of them are the right choice for your dog. Click here to learn more about the good and the bad of recent dog food trends.

1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “Get the facts! Raw pet food diets can be dangerous to you and your pet.”  

2. Nature: “The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet”

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Q&A: Salmonella outbreak.”

4. American Veterinary Medical Association: “Raw or undercooked animal-source protein in cat and dog diets.”

 

 

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