When we have discussions about the risks of feeding raw meat to dogs and cats, a frequent refrain is “where are the published reports of people getting sick?” While we know some illnesses occur, they tend not to get investigated to the level that they are published, which is problematic when trying to demonstrate the risks. Often the cases aren’t published because of failure to follow up with food testing, disjointed testing of the food and samples from affected people, or issues coordinating the animal, food and human information (given various barriers, including privacy issues).

However, a recent investigation in the US shows yet again that this is a real concern. Salmonella Reading infection was identified in two kids in a household, and the same Salmonella strain was isolated from four samples of pet food, namely Raws for Paws Ground Turkey Food for Pets (which is now under a FDA recall). One child was hospitalized with septicemia (i.e. bloodstream infection, a potentially fatal disease) and osteomyelitis (bone infection).

Deciding whether to feed raw meat to pets requires consideration of the risks.

My approach is that I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone, but if you’re considering it:

  • A) think about situations where it should never be done, and,
  • B) take measures to reduce the risk.

Check out our raw meat infosheet on the Worms & Germs Resources – Pets page for more information on how to reduce the risks if you’re going to feed raw.

Situations in which raw feeding should not be done include households with people or animals that are more likely to get sick or suffer serious illness, including those with young children, as was the case here.

Image source: CDC Public Health Image Library 21918