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The Risk of Raw Food for Dogs and Cats with Cancer

Many Tripawds members feed a raw meat diet to their cancer fighting dog or cat. Most pets do well on this unconventional menu but many veterinarians and the American Veterinary Medical Association discourage raw feeding. They argue against it not because they’re part of the pet food industrial complex, but because of pathogens and germs that live on meat. And it’s those bugs that are a serious problem when choosing raw food for dogs and cats with cancer.

The Perils of Raw Food for Dogs and Cats with Cancer

raw food for dogs and cats with cancer

It’s a controversial discussion, but when the forward thinking dog cancer expert Dr. Demian Dressler, author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, writes that raw food for pets with cancer is usually a bad idea, it’s good to pay attention. Here’s why he discourages it:

“You probably have heard of microbes like E. coli (sometimes found in ground red meat). This and other microbes grow over time on the surface of just about any red meat, chicken, pork or fish product, even when it is sealed in plastic and then refrigerated for prolonged periods. The longer the time between killing the animal and eating it, the more likely these foods are to have large populations of surface microbes.

There’s a second place that germs can hide out and multiply: inside the flesh of chicken, pork and fish. Salmonella and trichinella, as well as other parasites, can be found within the flesh of these foods (interestingly, beef carries very few microbes within it). 

As you probably know, if these microbes are not killed during cooking, they can make dogs very sick. In healthy dogs, the immune system might be able to fend off the microbes; infections are more likely in dogs with cancer. This is why I recommend cooking your dog’s food long enough to destroy microbes and minimize carcinogens.” 

— pg. 196, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

raw food for dogs and cats with cancer

In Tripawds Podcast Episode #30, Dr. Lena McCullough, creator of A Path with Paws, agrees, but takes a slightly softer stance toward raw meat pet cancer diets.


If your animal is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation you should not use a raw diet (freeze dried is fine). However for these animals a great option is a cooked diet. After they are done with these treatments the food can slowly be transitioned to raw if desired.

Diets for Cancer in Dogs and Cats, Dr. Lena McCullough

Obviously, many people still opt for fresh raw meat for their cat or dog, and we did too. Tripawds Founder Jerry ate raw meat throughout his life (not as a main menu but more of a treat).

But on more than one occasion his gut reacted poorly to the food being served. We got lucky he didn’t need hospitalization when that happened after he got cancer. When we read what Dr. Dressler wrote this in his blog post, “Raw Diet Dogs and Cancer,” it really hit home with us, which is why we are sharing this food for thought with you:

Now, does this mean that every dog who eats raw meat will get sick? Of course not!! But guess what? If only 10 out of 100 does, and your dog is one of those ten, it will matter a lot to you! — Dr. Dressler

Recommended Reading

Diets for cancer in cats and dogs – you are what you eat, a fighting cancer machine

Raw Diet Dogs and Dog Cancer

More Raw Ideas on Dog Cancer

AVMA Implements Raw Dog and Cat Food Policy for Veterinarians, Patients

The How To’s of Home Cooked Raw Food for Cats and Dogs, with Judy Morgan DVM

Perso and Snoopy’s Drastic Change When Switching to a Raw Diet

Listen to Dr McCullough on Tripawd Talk Radio

Subscribe to Tripawd Talk wherever you enjoy podcasts!

5 thoughts on “The Risk of Raw Food for Dogs and Cats with Cancer”

  1. Thanks for posrinf this and all the links. O loke tje two approaches Dressler amd MicCullough take. Nice balance.

    And it’s ALWAUS a treat to see Jerru!! Such a good looking voy! And so clearly focused on the bliss of raw😎

  2. If you read the research from reputable holistic veterinarians a raw food diet is the first step towards the best nutrition for a pet with cancer. ALL kibble converts to sugar which only feeds cancer. Your article is biased.

    • Thanks for your opinion Carmen, and for reading. If you’d like to point us to this research, please feel free to do so in a guest blog post, we would consider running one if you’re up to it.


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