33 responses

  1. Sabra Ewing
    February 13, 2018

    I actually read about another example. A foster mom was feeding her dog a frozen raw diet. The boy got salmonella playing with the dog, and the child welfare agency was able to link the salmonella to the frozen raw food diet and in order to keep fostering the boy, she had to feed the dog something different.


  2. Michelle
    February 14, 2018

    Interesting reading. I am a raw feeder following the raw prey model 8 and half years.

    And yes I’ll go never had an issue.
    I feed human standard no enhancements. Basically what they eat I eat.

    I prepare etc following hygienic methods. I freeze all fresh meat I get for them from butcher. Including organs.

    At the end of the day. I am probably who you would say is prepared to take the risk. As I belueve the health benefits outweigh tbese studies being presented.

    I too feel tbese studies are being trotted out and funded by the big pet food companies as a response to their loss of market share.

    And yes their food they sell is crap. 100% processed. Dyes fillers preservatives and additives contained within.

    Vets are blind too and sell this kibble and promote it. So just as bad as me.

    What does this leave? Probably a home based cooked diet? Or raw but cooked chicken.

    The reality as I see it. Lots claim to feed raw but in fact mix feed or feed inappropriately including bones. Vets don’t ask the specifics.

    Wouldn’t it be more helpful to ascertain and advise them appropriately Instead of their blanket raw is bad.

    Raw is here to stay and more and more owners are feeding.

    I for one will not be changing. But I’ll continue to read studies bith for and against.


    • skeptvet
      February 15, 2018

      “Basically what they eat I eat.”
      And you eat your meat raw? Certainly early humans did, so it’s as much a part of out evolutionary history as it is of that of our pets. Cooking is arguably as unnatural for us as them.

      As for the idea that you can just ignore all evidence because you think it is funded by some commercial conspiracy, that’s just a rationalization for ignoring evidence that conflicts with your beliefs. Everyone has bias, whether financial or ideological, and that applies to raw advocates and folks selling raw foods as much as to companies selling cooked foods. You pick and choose what kinds of bias to care about so that you don’t have to consider changing your mind. You ignore all the biases that make personal experience and anecdote unreliable, but you care about funding bias in research because that leaves your beliefs unchallenged. It’s a pretty clear example of confirmation bias.

      “Wouldn’t it be more helpful to ascertain and advise them appropriately Instead of their blanket raw is bad.”
      Not if the truth is that raw has no benefits and only risks. As I’ve said, I’m open to any scientific evidence that there are benefits worth the risks, but unless this is produced, the most reasonable approach is to avoid the risk altogether.


  3. Michelle
    February 15, 2018

    Lol..i would say you have confirmation bias too.

    All foods carry risk. How many kibble/ commercial foods have been recalled? Compared to the one raw you quote.

    I grew up in a home where and so did every other dog in NZ. We’re fed lamb flaps, brisket, scraps off our table.

    Why? Because there was no kibble or commercial wet food. Kibble only came in the late 70’s.

    A 100% processed diet. Is not a healthy diet. Commonsense should tell you that.

    Would you eat a 100% processed diet? Of course not. So how is it healthy for our dogs and cats?

    Quite frankly I am not interested in trying to convince you of the benefits of raw.

    For one there is never any definition of what actually constitutes a raw diet.

    Throwing a hunk of meat and any old bone, plus still giving kibble and commercial treats is not a raw diet. Just saying


  4. v.t.
    February 16, 2018

    One raw diet recalled, Michelle? Go to the FDA site and see how many raw foods have been recalled.


  5. Brian Cullen
    February 16, 2018

    Michelle , you seem quite convinced about the benefits of Raw , other than anecdote , do you have any reason for this , a study that impressed you etc …


  6. Howard W.
    February 20, 2018

    Your analysis of the data out there and the comments that follow have convinced me. When you’re right, you’re right. I feed raw meat to my cats, but I think your arguments apply to them as well, and I want to stop their raw diet. However, there is so much conflicting information on the web, it’s hard to figure out what is a good replacement. Do you have any information on what to look for when it comes to finding the right diet for my cats?


    • skeptvet
      February 20, 2018

      Unfortunately, there is no simple way to choose the optimal diet for any individual. Assuming healthy adult cats, a balanced reputable commercial diet is a good starting place, though it is important to monitor weight, coat quality, stool quality, and other general indicators of condition since some individuals may do better on one food than another even if both are equally good foods in general. There is at least a plausible argument that canned is better than dry in terms of moisture and carbohydrate content, and it is certainly lower in calories, which can reduce obesity. Beyond that, there is no compelling evidence to support the claim of every brand that they are superior to every other brand, just marketing hype.


  7. Meggie Moo
    February 21, 2018

    Excellent commentary, as usual.
    At the moment we have three dogs who are raw fed for various reasons. The other six aren’t (they are fed a high quality, high protein commercial diet with added cooked bits for interest).
    However, having looked at your blog and the science behind it, rather than the original research, I’m looking at alternatives. Freeze dried maybe? Cooked/tinned perhaps? At least when the elderly greyhound who won’t eat anything other than raw finally pops off the planet!


  8. RAS
    March 2, 2018

    Hello there. I *really* admire and enjoy your blog posts. I have forwarded a link to this latest one to several more junior colleagues who are very interested in this topic.

    We discussed the Melbourne / APN / Campy / raw chicken study at Journal Club this week. I concur with 98% of what you have written above, and I think the fundamental findings of the study are sound, but I would appreciate your comments on this one point:

    I think the study would have been stronger if each control dog was chosen from the same neighbourhood as its matching case. I base this on a view about case-control studies: “Controls should come from the same population as the cases, and their selection should be independent of the exposures of interest.” Schulz KF, Grimes DA (2002). “Case-control studies: research in reverse”. Lancet. 359 (9304): 431–4.

    I am not convinced that using veterinary staff-owned animals as controls complied sufficiently with the requirement for independence from the exposure of interest (in this case, the feeding of raw chicken). I do not agree completely with the way you wrote about the nature and design of case-control studies in this excellent rebuttal.

    Once again, I find your work on this blog outstandingly good and very enjoyable.


    • skeptvet
      March 2, 2018

      Thanks for the comment and question! I think the limitation you refer to is a real one, and it has to be factored into the process of setting our level of confidence in the findings, as is always part of the critical appraisal process. This, then, gets factored into the larger context to help make real-world decisions.

      The trick with a case-control study is to pick a control population that is representative of the population that produced the cases except for the exposure of interest. The authors of this study stated their variables of interest to be “the association between Campylobacter infection in dogs and APN [and] to identify potential risk factors associated with APN, including consumption of raw chicken meat and recent Campylobacter infection.” For this purpose, selection of the control group should be independent of exposure to raw chicken.

      The control groups was described as being “either client-owned or staff-owned.” It doesn’t appear they specifically excluded staff-owned dogs from the case group, but since APN is rare it is unlikely any of the cases were staff owned. So the question, then, how many control dogs were staff-owned, and does having staff-owned animals included in the control group make these dogs unrepresentative of the population that produced the cases? Would this potentially change the associations seen in the study?

      I don’t think there is a simple way to definitively answer these questions. I can see that being a staff-owned pet would potentially be associated with a reduced likelihood of eating raw chicken since feeding raw is less popular among veterinary professionals than the general public. If this is true, then fewer dogs in the control group would be eating raw chicken than in the case group, and the association might appear stronger that it really is. However, this requires a our assumptions to be true: 1. a significant proportion of the control group were staff-owned, 2. staff pets are less likely to eat raw chicken than pets owner by the general public. These are just suppositions, not known facts.

      This particular concern could, you are right, be eliminated by ensuring no staff-owned pets in the control group. However, there are inevitably potential differences between control and case groups in any case-control study, and I suspect the proponents of raw diets would seize on others to make the same argument. We cannot eliminate weaknesses entirely from research studies, which is why biologic plausibility and consistency across different kinds of evidence are critical for establishing causal relationships. The association between Campy and GBS in humans adds to the strength of the hypothesis advanced in this study. Of course, no single study is ever definitive, and there is room for some uncertainty in the hypothesis that raw chicken leads to Campy which leads to APN. More studies, ideally with different design features and limitations, would certainly strengthen the hypothesis (or potentially weaken it). All-in-all, I think it is a pretty good piece of evidence suggesting one more potential risk to feeding raw chicken, but the overall case against feeding raw certainly doesn’t hinge on this one study.

      For me, the larger issue is are there potential risks to raw diets, and how do these compare to the potential benefits. This study is just one piece of a larger picture of evidence supporting the rather obvious view that eating raw meat poses health risks. Against this I have yet to see objective evidence of benefits, so I remain unconvinced that the risks are worth taking.


  9. Carole Raschella
    April 17, 2018

    I’ll make this brief. Your entire theory is flawed from the start because you cannot compare the human digestive system to that of a dog. They are completely different. Dogs intestinal tracts are much shorter and designed to process meat rapidly. Dogs carry the salmonella bacteria too, which would harm humans but doesn’t bother dogs. I have been feeding raw for almost twenty years and yes, there IS a standard. Your dog’s diet should mirror that of a prey animal…generally considered to be 70% bones, 20% muscle meat and 10% organs. That, as I said, is a very brief explanation, although I could go on for pages. Commercial dog foods get recalled regularly. My dogs’ food is bought at the supermarket, the same meats that humans eat. It’s just not cooked. And the reason you don’t see a lot of studies? That’s easy. No money in it, not for the dog food manufacturers or the veterinary establishment.


    • skeptvet
      April 18, 2018

      I understand you believe that dogs are immune to Salmonella due to their natural history and anatomy, but this isn’t actually true. Some types of Salmonella can be harbored without symptoms, others are more likely to be pathogenic, and individuals with other illnesses, parasites, or who are very young or old, may be more susceptible. In addition, dogs can shed salmonella which can harm humans even if it doesn’t harm the dogs, and raw feeding increases this risk. Your anecdotal experience is not, as you seem to believe, convincing evidence for your claims. The risks to pets and humans are real, and there are no proven benefits to justify the risks.

      As for the idea that we can do without research because there is no money to be made on raw foods, you are wrong on two counts. There are, of course, plenty of people making money off of commercial raw diets and off books and lecture tours selling raw feeding. They could pay for studies if they really wanted to. And regardless of the reasons for the lack of evidence, without that evidence we still can’t know the truth, so you can’t simply get away with claiming that you are right and you don’t need to bother proving it since it is too expensive to do so.


      • destanie kennedy
        January 17, 2019

        hi, dis you study ever say any other way to get rid of this problem without cooking the meat? because it would be something im willing to do, vut i already know i wont ever have time to properly cook it, unless i had a pressure cooker, which i dont ( due to the fact that cooking bones any other way will make them sharp and splintery, while in a pressure cooker, chicken bones turn to mush ( only had success with chicken bones tho)) while still retaining nutrients. is it possible to sterlize the meat via freezing or anything?


      • skeptvet
        January 20, 2019

        Freezing does not reliably reduce the risk of bacterial disease or parasites. It appears that High-pressure Pasteurization may make raw meat safer, but the evidence is limited.


      • Matt
        February 19, 2019

        The craze with raw feeding is ridiculous, and from my experience, many of
        these same crazed people have gone down the magical pseudoscience path of
        paleo, LCHF, keto etc., for themselves thinking their weight loss was
        because of *insert eating method* instead of a reduction in calories through
        demonizing/removing a particular macronutrient.

        One successful raw pet food company (based out of Portland, Maine) claimed,
        and I quote, “The Food and Drug Administration recently released an article
        informing the public that “salmonella is not harmful to dogs.” The acidity
        level in the canine stomach is very high, creating a very inhospitable
        environment for bacteria.”

        When asked for their source on said claim they skirted around the
        topic and instead offered me a discount toward their product, ha. I submitted a Pet Food Safety Report through the FDA and
        surprisingly, either through sheer luck or coincidence, that claim has since been revised and no longer includes
        mention of the FDA. Thanks for doing what you do, Brennen and please keep
        fighting this battle. Those of us who are evidence based appreciate you.


  10. v.t.
    April 18, 2018

    Carole, go to FDA-CVM and compare the number of raw pet foods recalled to commercial foods (there’s been quite a few this year alone, as compared to commercial).

    Raw food can contaminate you, your pets, your kids and anyone who comes into contact with infected pets or surfaces or objects – if your dog is infected, one of your guests gets a kiss from your dog, that guest can become infected and ….

    Do you really think that a supermarket is immune to contaminated products?


  11. Lexa
    April 19, 2018

    When I switched my dogs to raw food, I was able to do it overnight. No very changeover which I have found to be necessary when switching from one processed food to another – good brands all. Also the dogs’ poops on raw are way better – less soft, less smelly and less of it. Finally with raw I have no problem with the dogs’ weight. They are lean but not skinny. Before I switched to raw one of my dogs often vomited. He still does but occasionally, but very much less. The evidence of my own dogs suggests to me that raw food is best.


    • skeptvet
      April 20, 2018

      Understandable, but unfortunately there are many reasons why the evidence of our own experiences isn’t very reliable. Here are some previous discussions, and a bit of humor, to illustrate why:

      Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted


  12. Christine Leman
    April 20, 2018

    Greetings and thank you for your thorough and thought-provoking comments on raw feeding. What do you think about companies using High-Pressure Processing of raw pet foods to make them “safer”? While raw-food purists complain that good bacteria is destroyed along with harmful bacteria (as well as a number of other complaints) is still seems to have some promise in making the practise of raw feeding at least a little safer. I am a pet supply store owner and I carry raw products like this (originally due to two vets asking for these products) as a means of attempting to provide some protection for pets and their owners. While it still makes no claim to the efficacy of a raw diet do you think HPP is at least a step in the right direction?


    • skeptvet
      April 20, 2018

      though there isn’t much data on commercial raw diets specifically, in general it seems like HPP likely does reduce the risk of bacterial contamination significantly. Whether there are any benefits to feeding raw, and whether these are reduced by HPP, is still a matter of opinion for the most part since there is almost no real evidence.


  13. Tyler
    February 23, 2019

    I haven’t seen a single dog on raw that wasn’t too skinny and all messed up in the guts. There, my anecdotal evidence compels me to keep feeding my dogs their regular kibble.

    In all seriousness, though, the thing about dog poo on raw is mystifying to me. Who decided that hard, dry poo that turns to white dust is an indicator of health? And why do people believe this?

    I really appreciate this blog!


  14. Tiffany
    February 7, 2020

    My 4.3 lb chihuahua was 9 years old and exuberantly healthy. She had been diagnosed 2 years ago with a level 1 heart murmur, which was monitored by my vet and never increased or became symptomatic over 2 years. I was careful to feed her the best food and wanted to do whatever I could to keep her heart strong and healthy. I discovered ‘Nzymes’ online and began to supplement with her Royal Canin (brand recommended by her vet). I talked to someone affiliated with Nzymes about her heart murmur, and they recommended to me to feed my 4.3 lb chihuahua a commercial raw pet food brand called Northwest Naturals. I started her on raw food in July of 2019. At the end of November 2019 she came down with a sudden case of Hemorraghic GastroEnteritis, and was in the emergency hospital for a total of 4 nights. The doctors said she made it through the HGE, which they believe she came down with from eating the raw food diet. Two weeks later she developed life threatening complications from the HGE. While in the emergency hospital they put a catheter in her jugular that they believe caused a blood clot that went to her lung, making her heart work harder, and putting her into congestive heart failure. I want to warn everyone about the raw food diet. If I could go back in time I would never buy it.


  15. Heidi
    June 9, 2020

    I’m so sorry Tiffany! That’s awful. You taking the time to share here matters. Thank you. Skeptvet has been sounding the alarm for years. I think it’s finally getting through.


  16. Simon Cockram
    August 9, 2023

    Conor Brady recently wrote an article on GDV, you can guess where that goes! He now seems to be expanding in to emergency care when he advocates because of one vet he mentions says in an emergency you can stick a knife into the side of your dog! I picked him up on this which he didn’t like one bit, not one emergency and critical care vet or field medic would suggest this, some do advocate GNDC if trained and I gave him information such as the VetCOT guidlines, he then tried to deflect from the issue and go on about raw vs kibble, that wasn’t the issue, the issue is advocating to pet owners in an emergency they can stick a knife in their dog! He spat his dummy out and either blocked me from the FB post or deleted it because no one can find it, although it is still on his website. An example of someone with influence who others listen to should check their facts and sources before putting information out.


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