Raw diets for dogs and cats often use meat and organs from commercial sources and can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. Coli and Klebsiella among others. Some raw diets contain whole bones or large pieces of bone that can break teeth or cause intestinal obstruction.
A paper published last week in JAVMA last week illustrates another potential problem with this type of diet. There are several suppliers of diet mixes that are designed to be mixed with raw or cooked ingredients by the owner and then fed to the pet. Most claim to be complete diets appropiate for feeding to puppies and adult dogs, or kittens and cats.
In this case at least, the diet was profoundly insufficient in minerals and vitamins and nearly killed the puppy. The dog recovered after several months on commercial dog food. Diets should be tested and approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Food with this approval should have the appropriate levels of nutrients for the life stage of the pet you are feeding.
The abstract of the paper is quoted below as it requires a subscription to view;
Diffuse osteopenia and myelopathy in a puppy
fed a diet composed of an organic premix
and raw ground beef
Mark B. Taylor, ma, dvm; David A. Geiger, dvm;
Korinn E. Saker, dvm, phd, dacvn; Martha M. Larson, dvm, ms, dacvr
Case Description—An 8-month-old Shetland Sheepdog was evaluated because of the
sudden onset of signs of neck pain, collapse, and inability to rise. A cursory diet history
indicated that the dog had been fed a raw meat–based diet.
Clinical Findings—Initial evaluation of the dog revealed small physical stature, thin body
condition, and signs of cranial cervical myelopathy. Radiographically, diffuse osteopenia of
all skeletal regions was identified; polyostotic deformities associated with fracture remodeling
were observed in weight-bearing bones, along with an apparent floating dental arcade.
Hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia were detected via serum biochemical analyses. The
dog’s diet was imbalanced in macronutrients and macrominerals.
Treatment and Outcome—The dog received supportive care and treatment of medical
complications; neurologic abnormalities improved rapidly without intervention. Dietary
changes were implemented during hospitalization, and a long-term feeding regimen was
established. Following discharge from the hospital, exercise restriction was continued at
home. Serial follow-up evaluations, including quantitative bone density measurements, revealed
that dietary changes were effective. After 7 months, the dog was clinically normal.
Clinical Relevance—In the dog of this report, vitamin D–dependent rickets type I and suspected
nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism developed following intake of a nutritionally incomplete
and unbalanced diet. The raw meat–based, home-prepared diet fed to the dog was not feedtrial
tested for any life stage by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and its gross
nutrient imbalance induced severe metabolic, orthopedic, and neurologic abnormalities. Inadvertent
malnutrition can be avoided through proper diet assessment and by matching nutrient profiles with
patients’ nutritional needs. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2009;234:1041–1048)