CVMA-ACMV

Raw Food Diets for Pets – Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and Public Health Agency of Canada Joint Position Statement

July 18, 2012

Position

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) believe that there is a body of evidence supporting the potential health risks for pets fed raw meat based diets, and for humans in contact with either raw meats or pets fed a raw meat diet.

The CVMA holds that the documented scientific evidence of potential animal and public health risks in feeding raw meats outweigh any perceived benefits of this feeding practice.

The CVMA advises veterinarians that do recommend raw meat diets for pets under their care to be aware of potential liability concerns should a pet or in-contact human become ill due to pathogens originating in the diet.

The CVMA advocates that veterinarians recommending raw food diets must inform pet owners of potential risks (Background 3) and educate the owners on how to mitigate the real risk of pathogen exposure in both handling the food and in managing pets consuming raw meat diets.

Background

  1. There are multiple peer-reviewed studies documenting potential risks from bacterial pathogens present in raw meats for both pets fed these diets and for in-contact humans. (see references below).
  2. To date, no scientific evidence to support the efficacy or safety of these diets has been published.  Multiple benefits of feeding these diets are touted, but are supported only by anecdotal reports.
  3. Risks of feeding raw food diets to pets:
  • Pets fed raw meats can shed potential bacterial pathogens in their stool thereby acting as a source of potentially significant zoonotic infections to in-contact humans.
  • Enhanced risk of human infection in human hospitals visited, for therapeutic reasons, by pets fed raw food diets.
  • Enhanced risk of infection in immune-compromised members of a household from a pet fed a raw food diet.
  • Enhanced risk of infection in very young children from exposure to the food or feces of pets consuming raw food diets.
  • Bacterial pathogens in raw foods and in the stool of pets fed raw foods have enhanced patterns of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Raw food diets may not be nutritionally balanced and may represent health risks to growing puppies and adult dogs.

References

  1. Schlesinger DP, Joffe D. Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review. Can Vet J 2011;52:50-54.
  2. Leonard EK, Pearl DL, Finley RL, et al. Evaluation of pet-related management factors and the risk of Salmonella spp. carriage in pet dogs from volunteer households in Ontario (2005-2006).  Zoonoses Public Health 2011;58:140-149.
  3. Taylor MB, Geiger DA, Saker KE, Larson MM. Diffuse osteopenia and myelopathy in a puppy fed a diet composed of an organic premix and raw ground beef.  J Am Vet Med Assoc 2009;234:1041-1048.
  4. Lenz J, Joffe D, Kauffman M, Zhang Y, LeJeune J. Perceptions, practices, and consequences associated with foodborne pathogens and the feeding of raw meat to dogs. Can Vet J 2009;50:637-643.
  5. Lefebvre SL, Reid-Smith R, Boerlin P, Weese JS.  Evaluation of the risks of shedding Salmonellae and other potential pathogens by therapy dogs fed raw diets in Ontario and Alberta.  Zoonoses Public Health 2008;55:470-480.
  6. Finley R, Reid-Smith R, Ribble C, Popa M, Vandermeer M, Aramini J.  The occurrence and antimicrobial susceptibility of Salmonellae isolated from commercially available raw food diets in three Canadian cities.  Zoonoses Public Health 2008;55:462-469.
  7. Finley R, Ribble C, Aramini J, Vendermeer M, Popa M, Littman M, Reid-Smith R. The risk of Salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets.  Can Vet J 2007;48(1):69-75.
  8. Weese JS, Rousseau J. Survival of Salmonella copenhagen in food bowls following contamination with experimentally inoculated raw meet:  Effects of time, cleaning, and disinfection. Can Vet J 2006;47:887-889.
  9. Morley PS, Strohmeyer RA, Tankson JD, Hyatt DR, Dargatz DA, Fedorka-Cray PJ. Evaluation of the association between feeding raw meat and Salmonella enterica infections at a Greyhound breeding facility.  J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006;228:1524-1532.
  10. 1Strohmeyer RA, Morley SP, Hyatt DR, Dargatz DA, Scorza AV, Lappin MR. Evaluation of bacterial and protozoal contamination of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006;228:537-542.
  11. Finley R, Reid-Smith R, Weese JS.  Human health implications of Salmonella-contaminated natural pet treats and raw pet food. Clin Infect Dis 2006;42:686-691.
  12. Weese JS, Rousseau J, Arroyo L. Bacterial evaluation of commercial canine and feline raw diets. Can Vet J 2005;46:513-516.
  13. Finley RL. Salmonella in commercially available pig ear treats and raw food diets: Prevalence survey and canine feeding trial. [MSc. Thesis]. Guelph, Ontario. University of Guelph, 2004.
  14. Joffe DJ, Schlesinger DP.  Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets. Can Vet J 2002;43:441-442.
  15. Lejeune TJ, Hancock DD.  Public health concerns associated with feeding Raw meat diets to dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:1222-1225.
  16. Dillitzer N, Becker N, Kienzle E. Intake of minerals, trace elements, and vitamins in bone and raw food rations fed in adult dogs. Brit J of Nut 2011;106:S53-S56.

(Revised July 2012)