Feeding Raw Meats to Pets Questioned


By Dr. Michael W. Fox

The Raw Food Veterinary Society, (RFVS) based in the U.K., states on its website “The gold standard diet is as close to the evolutionary diet of dogs and cats as is practically possible, is made from fresh frozen raw meaty bones, meats, organ meats, fruits and vegetables, minimally processed by mincing and freezing. The diet contains no added synthetic supplements, additives or preservatives.” For more details and documentation of their animal health and safety assertions go to https://rfvs.info/rfvs-position-statement-2021/

It is a fact that in the U.S. pet foods, especially ultra processed kibble, is often recalled by the ton because of Salmonella and other bacterial contaminants from farmed animals that could make pets ill and humans in their homes. For instance see: Mid America Pet Food Expands Voluntary Recall to Include Additional Dog and Cat Food Products . https://truthaboutpetfood.com/mid-america-pet-food-expands-voluntary-recall-to-include-additional-dog-and-cat-food-products/

The RFVS contends that animals on properly formulated raw food diets have a healthy gut microbiome (beneficial varieties of bacteria in their intestines) which protects them from harmful bacteria that may be in some mishandled raw meats.

But in my opinion, this is running the gauntlet since factory farmed animal meats are a significant source of harmful, and often antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Furthermore, a drastic reduction in human consumption of farmed animal produce is called for because of the documented contribution of animal agriculture to the Climate and Extinction Crises. Terrestrial vertebrate biomass today breaks down as 36% humans, 60% livestock, 4% wildlife. For details see https://ourworldindata.org/wild-mammals-birds-biomass.

Feeding dogs raw meat may increase the likelihood that humans could be exposed to antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria either through exposure to the dogs’ feces or handling the uncooked meat, according to a study in One Health. The practice also runs afoul of AVMA policy, which advises against feeding cats or dogs “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.” ( See Jordan E. Sealeyet al. One health transmission of fluoroquinolone-resistant Escherichia coli and risk factors for their excretion by dogs living in urban and nearby rural settings. One Health,Volume 17, 2023,100640, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.onehlt.2023.100640.)

I am all for feeding some raw foods such as well washed, ideally Organically Certified grated or blended fruits and vegetables to dogs along with some moist canned dog food of good quality such as Castor and Pollux Organix (also for cats) and a slow-cooked or air-dried dog foods such as those from The Honest Kitchen and Earth Animal’s Wisdom dog food with turkey and chicken Global Animal Partnership (GAP) certified to be humane and high nutritional quality.

Fully formulated and nutritious vegan dog foods will soon be more evident in this evolution and revolution on feeding our dogs in good conscience and with less adverse impact on the environment and biodiversity. I do not advise cat owners to consider making their cats vegan at this stage in the development of such diets for cats because they are so-called obligate carnivores. Lower-environmental impact cultivated meat and fish products, with zero-animal suffering and killing, may soon be included in cat foods as well as dog and human food markets.

Czech start-up Bene Meat Technologies is the first to win European Union registration for laboratory-grown meat for use in pet food and plans to boost production to make up to several metric tons per day next year. Czech firm Bene Meat gets EU registration for lab-grown meat for pet food | Reuters

Now, a UK company, Meatly, is selling cultivated meats for inclusion in pet foods. See Meatly to sell ‘first-ever’ cultivated pet food | Pet Food Processing Biotechnological and bioengineering tools are being developed with the aim of making healthier, more sustainable foods with lower carbon footprints, that don’t require the death of animals. Read A focus issue of Nature Reviews Bioengineering looks at the state of the art.

Our dogs are more like us, adaptable omnivores who can transition to becoming vegan. Some studies have shown that dogs enjoy better health on well-formulated vegan diets than dogs fed highly processed conventional kibble that loses nutrients from over-heating so that various vitamins and other synthetic additives must be added after processing. These correctives have resulted in recalls. For instance, in February 2023, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company recalled select lots of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental (PPVD EL) prescription dry dog food after the company received two confirmed cases of dogs exhibiting signs of vitamin D toxicity after consuming the diet.