Do you feed your dog a raw diet including meat, eggs, or other raw animal foods? If so, your dog’s diet is now in direct conflict with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s new policy, “Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets.”
Fresh from the AVMA’s annual August convention (sponsored by two of the world’s biggest pet food manufacturers), the raw feeding policy states that:
“The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans. Cooking or pasteurization through the application of heat until the protein reaches an internal temperature adequate to destroy pathogenic organisms has been the traditional method used to eliminate pathogens in animal-source protein, although the AVMA recognizes that newer technologies and other methods such as irradiation are constantly being developed and implemented.”
According to the AVMA, the raw protein policy is not a binding regulation on veterinarians or pet owners, it simply discourages the practice of raw feeding. The AVMA states:
“Please keep in mind that this policy is NOT a ban on raw foods for pets and it is not a regulation that requires veterinarians (regardless of whether they’re AVMA members or not) to comply, or even agree with it,” May wrote. “It’s not a debate on the healthiness of or risks associated with raw foods versus other commercial pet foods. Nor is it an attempt to force a ban or restrict pet owners’ rights to feed their pets how and what they want.”
Sadly, language was omitted which stated that “there are some pet owners who prefer to feed raw diets, and that veterinarians should ensure that owners are aware of the risks and measures to mitigate the health risks,” according to this article on the American Animal Hospital Association website.
What’s the Motive Behind the Policy?
So now that we know that the policy is not, then what exactly is this policy all about? The AVMA , and many veterinarians, believe that the risks of contracting food borne pathogens like salmonella and e-coli for both humans and pets, along with intestinal blockages from bone fragments, outweigh the health benefits of a raw diet for cats and dogs. The organization recommends that pet parents:
Avoid feeding inadequately treated animal-source protein to cats and dogs
Restrict cats’ and dogs’ access to carrion and animal carcasses (eg,while hunting)
Provide fresh, clean, nutritionally balanced and complete commercially prepared or home-cooked food to cats and dogs, and dispose of uneatenfood at least daily
Practice personal hygiene (eg, handwashing) before and after feeding catsand dogs, providing treats, cleaning pet dishes, and disposing of uneatenfood
* The recommendation not to feed unpasteurized milk to animals does not preclude the feeding of unpasteurized same-species milk to unweaned juvenile animals.
Holistic-minded pet parents and raw feeding advocates believe the policy is an example of the commercial pet food industry’s influence on the veterinary community.
For example, raw food advocates believe that since companies like Hill’s provide financial backing for many of the nutrition curriculum found in vet schools around the country, the AVMA has an unspoken duty to pledge allegiance to kibble. Ironically, last year alone over 48 people were sickened by salmonella bacteria found in commercial dog food, yet the AVMA did not make a public statement about safe manufacturing and handling procedures for commercial dog food.
What you do think the AVMA Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets is all about?
Safe Raw Feeding Options for Dogs and Cats
If you are unsure about feeding a raw diet to your dog or cat but still want a way for them to enjoy some of the benefits, several raw dog and cat food manufacturers practice safe handling procedures and scientific testing of their foods before shipping them out to the public. They include: