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Raw Food for Dogs: The American Veterinary Medical Association Opposes It

The group steps into the middle of this emotionally charged debate. What do you think?

 |  Oct 10th 2012  |   32 Contributions


The American Veterinary Medical Association recently announced a policy recommending against people feeding their dogs and cats raw or unprocessed meat, eggs, and milk. A whopping 90 percent of AVMA delegates voted for this, with most citing safety concerns for the animals.

As you might guess if you've ever witnessed people talking about raw diets for dogs, the decision wasn't without controversy. Among other protests, nearly 4,000 people signed a Change.org petition against the policy, with some accusing the AVMA of being puppets of the pet-food industry.

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Sorry, no more table scraps. Or steaks. Hungry dog by Shutterstock

The raw-food debate inevitably inspires heated, emotional arguments, even when not up for a vote in the largest veterinary organization in the U.S. I can't tell you how many knock-down, drag-out fights I've seen on Dogster and other dog websites regarding raw food.

In one Pedigree forum, a subject line reads, "Vet said feeding raw is the worst thing ever for dog." The owner of a German Shepherd was looking for advice. It inspired 160 responses, many passionately endorsing a raw diet. Some advice was well-thought-out. Some not so much. "Your vet is a retard," one raw proponent wrote.

Kibble feeders can get pretty defensive when up against people telling them they're feeding their dog junk. "To me, the raw feeders of this site are akin to the Bible Punchers who knock at your door trying to convert their faith to you; they have no respect for other people's preference and only their own view counts and is correct," railed a man who is quite happy with the kibble life.

It can get uglier, but we won't go there in this post.

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Spaniel eating by Shutterstock

The AVMA cites pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Toxoplasma gondii (the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis), Cryptosporidium, Echinococcus, Clostridium, Neospora, and Sarcocystis. These canine and human pathogens "are shed in dog stools and may be transferred to carpets and furniture as the dog moves around the house," a couple of veterinary nutritionists warn.

As for the transfer of bad-guy bacteria to humans, even one of the studies the AVMA used in coming to its policy decision states that there have been no confirmed cases of human salmonellosis associated with these raw diets.

And it's not as if commercial dog food is free from issues. Who among us hasn't been put off by the seemingly never-ending stream of dog food recalls in recent years? At least two of the above bacteria have been at play. The AVMA FAQ, in fact, noted that unlike the case with raw-food diets, there have been a number of cases of Salmonella in humans due to commercially prepared kibble.

Raw proponents also have plenty of concern about all fillers and grains and preservatives and the lack of primo ingredients in the typical kibble diet. On the flip side, those who don't like raw say it's very hard to strike the right nutritional balance.

I know I'm just barely grazing the arguments on both sides. I'm allotted only a certain space for this column, so I leave the sizzling hot raw debate in your hands. You have all the room you like in the comments.

So tell us: What do you think of the AVMA policy? Will you heed the advice? Why do you or don't you feed your dog a raw diet? Do you have a favorite website you like to recommend to people to learn more about your way of feeding your dog? Let's talk! 

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