Animal-source proteins of concern include beef, pork, poultry, fish, and other meat from domesticated or wild animals as well as milk* and eggs. Several studies1–6 reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals have demonstrated that raw or undercooked animal-source protein may be contaminated with a variety of pathogenic organisms, including Salmonella spp, Campylobacter spp, Clostridium spp, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus. Cats and dogs may develop foodborne illness after being fed animal-source protein contaminated with these organisms if adequate steps are not taken to eliminate pathogens; secondary transmission of these pathogens to humans (eg, pet owners) has also been reported.1,4 Cats and dogs can develop subclinical infections with these organisms but still pose a risk to livestock, other nonhuman animals, and humans, especially children, older persons, and immunocompromised individuals.
To mitigate public health risks associated with feeding inadequately treated animal- source protein to cats and dogs, the AVMA recommends the following:
* The recommendation not to feed unpasteurized milk to animals does not preclude the feeding of unpasteurized same-species milk to unweaned juvenile animals.
1. Joffe DJ, Schlesinger DP. Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets. Can Vet J 2002;43:441–442.
2. Finley R, Reid-Smith R, Weese JS, et al. Human health implications of Salmonella-contaminated natural pet treats and raw pet food. Clin Infect Dis. 2006;42:686-691.
3. Stiver SL, Frazier KS, Mauel MJ, et al. Septicemic salmonellosis in two cats fed a raw-meat diet. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2003;39:538–542.
4. LeJune JT, Hancock DD. Public health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:1222–1225.
5. Freeman LM, Michel KE. Evaluation of raw food diets for dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001;218:705-709.
6. Weese SJ, Rousseau J, Arroyo L. Bacteriological evaluation of commercial canine and feline raw diets. Can Vet J 2005;46:513–516.
2014 American Veterinary Medical Association