Ask Dr. Anna: myths and misconceptions on pet diets

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For the next few weeks I have decided to write a mini-series about pet food diets.  This week I will talk about the myths and misconceptions related to raw meat diets. 

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

There are various raw meat diets available commercially or recipes that can be homemade.  At this time there are no scientific studies showing any health benefits from raw meat diets.  In fact, I think there are more risks to feeding this type of diet than there are benefits.  While it is true that wild animals do eat raw meat they also forage on berries and other plants.  It’s also important to remember that most wild animals do not have as long of a life span as we are seeing in domestic animals today.  Therefore, what might be optimal for a wolf is not optimal for our pets especially if we expect them to live long and healthy lives.

A small study in the Unites States has shown that all diets tested had multiple nutritional imbalances.  A European study showed that 60% of raw meat diets had major nutritional imbalances.  These imbalances either involved a nutrient excess a nutrient deficiency or an improper calcium- phosphorous imbalance.  These deficiencies can be especially disastrous in your, growing pets and can result in fractured bones.

The other major concern with raw diets is bacterial contamination, which can include bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridium, and Campylobacter.  All these bacteria can cause illness in pets that can be life threatening and can be spread to humans.  In fact, we have seen a lot of human food products contaminated with these same bacteria.  Studies have found that 20 to 40 percent of commercially raw meat diets are contaminated with Salmonella.  Animals eating these contaminated diets can shed the bacteria in their stool for up to seven days.  Many commercial diets are frozen or even freeze-dried and bacteria can easily survive either one of these processes.

Please e-mail me with your questions at and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.


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