In a statement raising concerns about potential harm to both animals and humans, the American Animal Hospital Association joined the American Veterinary Medical Association in taking a stand against raw food diets for pets.
AAHA published a position statement on its website that reported the association “does not advocate or endorse feeding pets any raw or dehydrated nonsterilized foods, including treats that are of animal origin.” The association based its decision on “overwhelming scientific evidence” and cited 50 sources.
“Homemade raw food diets are unsafe because retail meats for human consumption can be contaminated with pathogens,” AAHA reported.
“Studies that have been done on both commercially available and homemade raw protein diets have found a high percentage (30-50%) of them contaminated with pathogenic organisms, and up to 30% of the dogs fed such diets may shed pathogenic organisms in their stool.”
The AAHA, which accredits veterinary practices across the U.S., composed of more than 47,000 veterinary care providers, cautioned that many of the pathogens found in raw protein diets “can be transmitted to the human population by contact with the food itself, pet or environmental surfaces,’’ posing a health risk to pets, other animals and people.
Both the AVMA statement, issued in August and the AAHA statement tiptoed around the issue of whether commercially prepared raw diets are safe.
In its statement, the AVMA acknowledged that “newer technologies and other methods such as irradiation are constantly being developed and implemented” but did not state whether those technologies are adequate to eliminate pathogens.
The AVMA also recommended feeding “fresh, clean, nutritionally balanced and complete commercially prepared or home-cooked food to cats and dogs” but did not use the word “raw” when describing the commercially prepared food.
Meanwhile, the AAHA statement denounced “nonsterilized” raw foods for pets but did not say what constitutes sterilization. Otherwise, AAHA did not mention commercial diets other than in its cited sources.
An AAHA spokesman could not be reached for further comment.