Raw diets for dogs

28 June 2021 – News

Raw diets for dogs

Raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) are becoming increasingly popular among pet owners. However, their real advantages have not yet been clearly proven and some undesired consequences of these diets have already been well documented, both in dogs and cats. The risk of pets consuming an incomplete and unbalanced daily meal is high and literature has shown that raw meat and internal organs can be easily contaminated, which may also have an impact on human health.

This study aimed to determine the motivations and the feeding practices of owners who routinely administer RMBDs to their dogs. It included 218 dog owners, mainly women, between the ages of 21 and 40 years old. Most dogs had an ideal body condition (according to their owner’s perception) and were reported to live inside the house all day.

The choice for this type of diet was motivated by internet research in 60% of the cases. Only 14% of the participants stated thy have asked the veterinarian for advice on formulating a RMBD. It is quite concerning to realize that pet owners often rely on questionable sources such as the internet to gather information on pet nutrition, failing to recognize that the consumption of this type of diets may put both animal and human health at risk.

Almost 80% of the owners had completely eliminated commercial dry food and the majority reported health improvements in their pets, mainly related to coat and skin. More than half of the pet owners have never noticed side effects related to these diets but the remaining 45% reported mainly diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. For pet owners, the main advantage of this food is the total control over the diet and their awareness of its composition, by obtaining its ingredients autonomously. Drawbacks as the collection of ingredients, the amount of time required for preparation and the cost were also described as benefits.

It is important to refer that RMBDs have a more narrower product market and lack rigorous quality controls. Also, their associated illnesses probably go unreported and therefore underrated. Public health agencies and veterinarians have an important role in owners’ education, helping them making better-informed decisions.

Morelli, G., Bastianello, S., Catellani, P. et al. Raw meat-based diets for dogs: survey of owners’ motivations, attitudes and practices. BMC Vet Res 15, 74 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-019-1824-x