raw feeding update

NinapearlFebruary 12, 2011

we're about 8 weeks into it now. the only thing that hasn't worked out so well was raw eggs. one of my danes ended up with runny poo and it's the only thing i could connect it with so, no more raw eggs.

i started giving organ meat in the form of chicken livers about 10 days ago. found out their favorite way of eating them is frozen. livercicles, if you will. :D

this weekend, i will add in some beef kidney.

so, all 3 danes are eating a variety now...chicken, turkey, pork, liver. ashley and bentley got a bit urpy with beef so i stopped that and will try again in a few weeks.

their coats are amazing...soft, shiny, very healthy looking. their weights are good. bentley has gained a couple of pounds, the girls are holding steady. the only disadvantage i see is that with their increased energy levels and 17" of snow with 10' drifts and now, lots of ice, there hasn't been much outside play time so i am having to come up with ways to keep them occupied inside. :D

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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

Nina, I am so happy to hear that things are working out for you. What does your vet think about all this? Is he/she on board enthusiastically? Any hesitations? How does it stack up cost wise - raw vs. dry??

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 7:16PM
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i have found in talking with other raw feeders that a LOT of vets are not the least bit enthusiastic but thankfully, my vet is. the only thing he mentioned was that he wants to do blood work after they have been on this diet for about 3 months just to make sure we aren't missing out on anything. i plan to do that in about another month.

as for cost, i figure it's about $3/day for my 3 danes. given the fact that i was spending $50 for a bag of kibble about every 10 days, i am finding that i have more money at the end of the month rather than too much month left at the end of the money!

their main source of protein is raw chicken quarters. when i see them on sale, usually at .49/pound, i buy 2 or 3 cases. they get a few chicken backs every day and 3 or 4 times a week, they get turkey necks. backs and necks are very inexpensive...i get 30# of turkey necks for around $14 and 40# of backs for $19. also, turkey pieces (thighs, drumsticks) are pretty cheap and there's plenty of meat on them.

i feed one boneless meal per week. that's usually the cheapest cut of pork roast.

something else i have found with raw feeding is that my dogs seem to sleep better. when they were eating kibble, one or more of them would get me up during the night occasionally to go outside. with raw, they digest virtually everything they eat so they don't poop nearly as much as they did on kibble...usually just once a day and sometimes they will go 2 days before they poop.

so far, i haven't found a single thing i don't like about raw feeding! :)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 6:27AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I may pick your brains, Nina, when you are further into your raw feeding experiment. (You sound like a sane person, which is hard to find given so many who practice raw feeding are really out there on the fringe!)

I have no plans to go from home cooking to all raw foods, but am toying with the idea of adding *some* raw foods to my dogs' diet at some point. My collie is too old and frail to deal with hard-to-chew raw foods, but I'm thinking ahead to a future younger dog.

I have always attributed my cats' longevity (all but one lived into their 20s) and good health to the fact that all were indoor/outdoor cats who hunted, and a natural prey diet was therefore part of their diet. None of my cats were ever harmed by the raw rodent and bird bones that they consumed.

On the downside of course is the fact that the prey that my cat(s) kill(ed) and consume(d) has always been a major source of worms and fleas at our house, and I have always had to be vigilent about regular de-worming and flea control for cats and dogs alike.

The frustrating part of the whole raw food discussion is that there is a giant impasse between proponents and the veterinary community. This gap makes it very hard for someone like myself to gather information and form an opinion.

A prime example of this rift would be two forums that I have visited, one peopled by several veterinarians and vet techs, and another devoted to raw feeding. The vet advice forum states flat out that they do not advocate feeding bones to dogs, period, and the subject is off limits for discussion. It would be more helpful to hear a detailed explanation of WHY they are opposed to the natural diet of a prey animal so that I could weigh the cons.

The raw feeding forum on the other hand does not allow discussion of parasite control (one of the prime concerns that many have, that I have experienced over the years with my cats, and that vets point out.) The raw feeding proponents seem to be unilaterally opposed to de-worming and vaccinations, under some sort of delusion that raw feeding will cure all ills and their pets will not need any medical care.

So it is difficult to get any valid information when both sides are entrenched and refuse to have a conversation.

On the subject of raw eggs and raw pork, I think I would cook both of these foods. Eggs are very prone to salmonella, probably because of the unsanitary conditions in factory farming, and uncooked pork can transmit trichinosis.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 10:52AM
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LOL, Livercicles! That's how my girls like their liver too and it's definitely not as messy as thawed liver. Glad to hear things are going so well. FWIW, my girls can't handle the raw eggs either, so either I boil them or they get scrambled once a week ( they also got the verpy's with raw eggs and sometimes squirty).
Spedigrees, it can be difficult and time consuming to wade through all of the information out there and yeah, there are extremist on either side of the fence. It would be nice if raw was the answer to all heath issues, but there is no magic bullet with any given method ( that includes the vaccine and de-worming issues as well). I would love to hear meghane's view on the bone issue. If you look at it on simplistic level, raw bones are soft and pliable (excluding the heavy weight bearing bones which are pretty hard but probably still digestable if they don't break a tooth) while the cellular composition of the bones when the cook change and become hard and brittle. That's when the become dangerous to ingest.
As far as parasites, I've never personally had any issue but there is always some risk. What alot of folks don't realize is that that risk carries over to kibble as well (I know you cook, so no issue there for you). I've got an article that I am putting below that addresses that. Sorry I don't have a link, it's in my files for folks that approach me with questions about raw feeding.

Risk, raw feeding, and pathogens: a review
Assessing the potential risk involved in feeding dogs raw meat is complicated.

Some of the issues I'd like to discuss are assessing the potential risk of to the dogs, assessing the risk to humans who are around raw-fed dogs, and the general issue of how to evaluate risks. References are in parentheses, and a list of sources can be found at the end of this article, with short excerpts and web links to full-text or author's abstracts in most cases.


First, the issue of risk in feeding a raw diet is not simple. ALL foods have some degree of risk, so the question isn't whether risk exists. The question is whether the risk is unacceptable.

You may think you want zero risk - but that's not a choice you get in life, because all foods carry some type of risk.

Raw meat can indeed be contaminated with e. coli 0157, camphylobacter, or other pathogens.

However, kibble can also contain disease-causing mold and other pathogens. Studies by Bueno (2001), Gunsen (2002), and Maia (2002) found aflatoxin, a toxic mold, in pet food samples. Aflatoxin contamination of dog kibble resulted in approximately 25 dog deaths in 1998 (Texas) and vomitoxin was found in batches of Nature's Recipe kibble in 1995 (Food and Drug Administration, 1995). At least seven dogs have died from unknown contamination of Petcurean pet food, recalled by the manufacturer in October 2003 (Syufy, 2003).

Bacteria and mold are not the only risks involved in choosing a food for your pet. For example, there is some research that says that small particle size of food is a risk factor in bloat, so with regard to bloat, feeding large meaty bones would be less risky than feeding any kibble (Theyse, 1998). Even the packaging of commercial food can carry some risk, as one study of canned pet foods showed that Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical and suspected endocrine disruptor leached from the cans into the food (Kang, 2002).

Dogs are more resistant to most of the common raw meat pathogens than are humans. (Consider the fact that many dogs use the kitty litter box as a snack tray without ill effects. Does anyone really want to argue that cat feces are free of pathogens?) Dogs are resistant - NOT immune - from the disease potential of these pathogens, and healthy dogs can harbor them without symptoms. Beutin (1993) found verotoxin producing e. coli in 4.8% of apparently healthy dogs and Dahlinger (1997) cultured various types of bacteria, including some forms of e. coli and salmonella from the lymph nodes of 52% of apparently healthy dogs brought in for elective spays. Most dogs can eat clean raw meat without a problem, even if the same raw meat would make humans very sick.

Still, a dog with a compromised immune system or digestive system is going to be more at risk for illness from any infectious agent than a dog who is healthy. So I would be reluctant to feed raw meat to an ill dog, a very young puppy, or a very elderly dog who has not previously been fed a raw diet.

I recently posted a article to the VETMED list about KSU's studies on Alabama Rot (a/k/a hemolytic uremic syndrome) in Greyhounds fed raw meat. (Greyhounds, 1995) Some people immediately posted "atta girl" posts to me privately. While I have no doubts about the accuracy of the KSU research, I think most of the readers of VETMED are unaware of exactly what kind of raw meat is fed to racing greyhounds.

Racing greyhounds are routinely fed raw "4-D meat" as part of their diet. 4-D meat is unfit for human consumption because the source of it is animals that died of natural causes (not via normal slaughter procedures) and includes animals which were diseased, or dying when they went into the slaughterhouse. This is meat which has either not been inspected by the USDA or it failed the inspection. This is not the quality of meat most pet owners buy if they are feeding their pets raw meat. 4-D meat is very foul stuff, and has the potential to contain much more in the way of pathogens than the meat that you buy in the supermarket. I would never feed a dog raw 4-D meat.

I don't know of any published veterinary reports of Alabama Rot in pet dogs fed raw diets from USDA-inspected meat. It is, unfortunately, mainly a problem caused specifically by the feeding of unwholesome raw 4-D meat - not raw meat generally.

But raw meat is not alone in having bacterial contamination problems. There are case reports of pathogens found in commercially produced dog food and in dog treats such as rawhide, pig ears, jerky, and chew hooves. (Human, 2000, as well as Clark et al, 2001; White et al. 2003; Bren 2000; FDA, 2000, Canadian Food Inspection Agency 1999 and 2000). According to the FDA, "all pet chew products of this type may pose a risk" (FDA, 1999).

So, my personal opinion is that with regard to the dog's health, feeding USDA graded raw meat to dogs is a reasonable choice for some owners to make as long as precautions are taken to avoid excess risk (for example, don't let the meat sit around at room temperature before giving it to the dog.)


Studies of pet dogs have shown e. coli O157 and salmonella in the feces of pet dogs - but most of these studies were not limited to dogs fed raw diets. So, kibble fed dogs and dogs fed rawhides, pig ears, and chew hooves also carry this risk.

However, before getting too fixated on dogs as a source of pathogens for humans, consider that the most notorious cases of food poisoning have been caused by poor hygiene from human sources - such as cooks and farmers.

While undercooked and raw meat is sometimes implicated in food poisoning cases, there have been an enormous number of cases of salmonella and e. coli from fruits and vegetables. The seemingly innocuous bean sprout has been linked to many outbreaks of food poisoning, as have melons, salads, and apple cider (Health Canada, 2002, and USDA 1995.) In other words, while raw meat is a a risk, so is almost ANY uncooked food that you eat. There has been one salmonella outbreak linked to almonds. (Chan et al. 2002)

So, are people at additional risk of getting pathogens from coming in contact with a dog fed raw meat? There isn't a lot of research that is directly on topic for this. There are studies of raw-fed dogs (Joffe and Schlesinger, 2002) but these do not carefully compare the raw fed dogs to a similar population fed commercial dog food. (See the commentary on Joffe's study by New n.d.).

I have seen studies of pet dogs that show that food-borne pathogens were present in a surprisingly large proportion of the dogs tested. Hackett and Lappin (2003) found infectious agents in the feces of 26% of healthy Colorado dogs. As far as I can tell, this study was NOT limited to dogs eating raw diets. Fukata et al (2002) found salmonella antibodies in 15% of apparently healthy dogs.

I think that you can reduce any potential risk of food poisoning related to dogs by simply having good hygiene - scrupulously washing your hands after cleaning up after your dog and washing up thoroughly before eating. Keeping the dog itself clean probably doesn't hurt, either. And it would make sense to avoid letting your dog lick you right after eating a chicken neck. For these reasons, I think that someone with pets and toddlers might want to avoid raw diets because small children will not follow the above rules. Kids often will let the dog lick their face any old time, and they may even try to taste the dog's meals. (Sato et al. 2000.)


Aside from the concept of 'relative risk' there is the question of risk versus benefit. If people were completely happy with the health of dogs from kibble feeding, the entire "raw foods" movement would have never taken root. There's nothing more convenient than pouring kibble into a dish. So some people must be seeing a benefit from feeding raw.

I think that most veterinarians' assessment of risk from raw diets is skewed by the fact that normal, healthy dogs are not generally seen by vets, and that most nutrition research is done using commercial diets. If there is a large population of totally healthy dogs eating raw diets, they may never be noticed by a veterinarian. On the other hand, vets will usually see the dogs who got the 3-day old chicken bones from the garbage can, or the one whose owner misguidedly thought it was a good idea to give their dog the skin and bones from their holiday turkey.

Raw diets do carry risk. These can be reduced by feeding the freshest cleanest meat the owner can buy and following all the rules about temperature, storage and hygiene (FSIS, 1999).

Kibble diets and dog treats also carry risk - and these can be reduced by buying fresh and high-quality food, rather than the cheapest stuff available, and by following proper storage and hygiene rules. But it's worth noting that some of the priciest brands of kibble were recalled because of toxic contamination, so a high price does not ensure safety.

I don't think there is one right way to feed dogs. I think that careful attention to nutrition and hygiene reduce the risk associated with whatever feeding regimen you choose. It's interesting to note that feeding raw meat is intensely controversial, while feeding pig ears and jerky - which carry similar if not higher risks for contamination - is widely accepted as reasonably safe.

Incidentally, in case anyone is wondering, the main diet for my dogs is free-fed kibble. I free feed because it helps prevent gluttony, and I have never had a case of bloat in Greyhounds, which are a somewhat bloat-prone breed. I also routinely feed my dogs raw chicken parts. I feed bony chicken parts because I have found this to be the most effective way of keeping my dogs' teeth clean. I haven't noticed any other big change in their health, but they love the chicken parts and their teeth are clean and their breath sweet as a result. Greyhounds are notorious for foul teeth as they age, but even my oldest dog has remarkably clean teeth.

With regard to the risk, I can only share my experience, in that I've not seen any illnesses in the dogs I can attribute to the raw meat nor to the kibble. I made my choice because I know of more pet greyhounds that have died from the anesthesia involved in teeth cleaning and other elective surgeries than have died from eating a raw diet.

I wrote this article to seriously examine the question a VETMED subscriber asked about the potential for risk when using raw-fed dogs as therapy dogs. As long as the dogs aren't fed raw meat during therapy sessions, I don't see a problem. While these dogs may carry pathogens, so may dogs fed kibble or pig ears, or rawhide. One survey found salmonella contamination of 41% of the dog treats examined (White et al, 2003). Accordingly, it would be not be logical or fair to bar raw fed dogs from a therapy dog program, unless you are also barring all dogs who are fed pig ears, rawhides, and other similar treats.


Beutin L, Geier D, Steinruck H, Zimmermann S, Scheutz F. (1993).
Prevalence and some properties of verotoxin (Shiga-like toxin)-producing Escherichia coli in seven different species of healthy domestic animals.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 31(9):2483-8.

"Fecal samples from 720 healthy, domestic animals representing seven different species (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats) were investigated for verotoxin (VT [Shiga-like toxin])-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC). VTEC were isolated from 208 animals (28.9%), most frequently from sheep (66.6% VTEC carriers), goats (56.1%), and cattle (21.1%). VTEC were isolated less frequently from pigs (7.5%), cats (13.8%), and dogs (4.8%) and were not found in chickens (Bren, L (2000, November).
Pet treats can make you ill.
FDA Veterinarian, 15(5).

"Pet treats made from the dried ears, hooves, lungs, and bones of pigs and cows have been implicated in Salmonella poisoning in humans."

Bueno DJ, Silva JO, Oliver G. (2001).
Mycoflora in commercial pet foods.
Journal of Food Protection, 64(5):741-3.

"This article reports on the identification of mycoflora of 21 dry pet foods (12 belonging to dogs and 9 to cats) that corresponded to 8 commercial brands [...] Some genera and species isolated and identified from the foods analyzed are potentially producing toxins, which are known as mycotoxins. This involves a risk for animal health."

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (1999).
Food Recall Archives.

9/24 - "Presence of Salmonella bacteria in pig ear dog treats" [Farm Meats Canada]
9/25 - "Possible presence of salmonella bacteria in EURO-CAN PIG EAR and other dog treats"
10/12 - "Presence of salmonella bacteria in dog treats" [Rollover, Co-op, PC, and Safeway]
11/19 - "Presence of Salmonella bacteria in certain UNCLE SAM'S brand dog treats" [Sargeant's Pet Products]
11/19 - "Presence of Salmonella bacteria in certain rawhide dog treats" [Avant RawHide]
12/1 - "Possibility of Salmonella bacteria in JAWBONE brand roasted pig ears"
12/6 - "Presence of Salmonella bacteria in ROLLOVER brand dog treats"
12/7 - "Presence of Salmonella bacteria in dog treats." [Co-op Gold and President's Choice]

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (2000).
Food Recall Archives.

3/1 - "HEALTH HAZARD ALERT - Dog treats may contain Salmonella." [Hartz rawhide]

Chan ES, Aramini J, Ciebin B, Middleton D, Ahmed R, Howes M, Brophy I, Mentis I, Jamieson F, Rodgers F, Nazarowec-White M, Pichette SC, Farrar J, Gutierrez M, Weis WJ, Lior L, Ellis A, Isaacs S. (2002).
Natural or raw almonds and an outbreak of a rare phage type of Salmonella enteritidis infection.
Canadian Communicable Diseases Report, 28(12):97-9.

Clark C, Cunningham J, Ahmed R, Woodward D, Fonseca K, Isaacs S, Ellis A, Anand C, Ziebell K, Muckle A, Sockett P, Rodgers F (2002).
Characterization of salmonella associated with pig ear dog treats in Canada.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 39(11):3962-8.

Dahlinger J, Marks SL, Hirsh DC (1997).
Prevalence and identity of translocating bacteria in healthy dogs.
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 1997 Nov-Dec;11(6):319-22.

European Commission (1998, October 30).
Report of the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH) on Benefits and Limitations of Antimicrobial Treatments for Poultry Carcasses.

FDA - Food and Drug Administration (2000).
Nationwide Recall of Medalist Brand Pig Ear Treats Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination.
HHS News May 23, 2000.

"Treat Makers, L.L.C., a manufacturer of natural pet treats, is voluntarily recalling Medalist brand pig ear pet treats, lot numbers 07600EXU3 and 08300EXU1, due to possible contamination with Salmonella. Pet owners can become ill by touching their mouth or food without washing their hands after handling the pet treats."

FDA - Food and Drug Administration (1999).
FDA Issues Nationwide Public Health Advisory about Contaminated Pet Chews.
HHS News October 1, 1999.

"The Food and Drug Administration today issued a nationwide public health warning alerting consumers about a number of recent cases in Canada of human illnesses apparently related to contact with dog chew products made from pork or beef-derived materials (e.g., pigs ears, beef jerky treats, smoked hooves, pigs skins, etc.). [...] Initial reports of illnesses came from Canada and involved Canadian products, but subsequent examination of similar products produced in the U.S. indicate that all pet chew products of this type may pose a risk."

Food and Drug Administration (1995).
Recalls and Field Corrections: Veterinary Products -- Class II
FDA Enforcement Report, Oct. 11, 1995.

"Product: Nature's Recipe Pet Food (dry) in 5, 20, and 40 pound paper bags (canine) and 4, 8, and 20 paper bags (feline) [...] Products are adulterated with the micotoxin vomitoxin, which may cause dogs and cats to become ill (vomiting and/or diarrhea)."

FSIS - Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (1999).
The Poultry Label Says "Fresh"

Fukata T, Naito F, Yoshida N, Yamaguchi T, Mizumura Y, Hirai K (2002).
Incidence of salmonella infection in healthy dogs in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.
Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 64(11):1079-1080.

Greyhounds Provide Model for E. Coli Food Poisoning in Humans (1995).
K-State Press Release, December 1995.

Gunsen U, Yaroglu T (2002).
Aflatoxin in dog and horse feeds in turkey.
Veterinary and Human Toxicology 44(2):113-4.

"Aflatoxin levels were determined by ELISA in 18 dog and 20 horse feed samples, collected from different firms from June 2000 to June 2001 in Turkey. The minimum and maximum levels of total aflatoxin in the dog and horse feeds were Hackett T, Lappin MR (2003).
Prevalence of enteric pathogens in dogs of north-central Colorado.
Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, 39(1):52-6.

"Infectious agents potentially associated with gastrointestinal disease were detected in 34 of 130 (26.1%) fecal samples. Agents with zoonotic potential were detected in feces from 21 (16.2%) of 130 dogs and included Giardia spp. (5.4%), Cryptosporidium parvum (3.8%), Toxocara canis (3.1%), Salmonella spp. (2.3%), Ancylostoma caninum (0.8%), and Campylobacter jejuni (0.8%). Positive test results occurred in dogs with or without gastrointestinal signs of disease."

Health Canada (2002).
Risks Associated with Sprouts

"Worldwide between 1995 to 2001, there have been 13 outbreaks of foodborne illnesses linked to sprouts. In most instances, the illnesses were caused by either Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 or Salmonella bacteria."
"Anyone who eats raw sprouts is at risk for exposure to E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella bacteria. However, the risk of serious health effects is greater for young children, seniors, and people with weak immune systems."

Human Health Risk from Exposure to Natural Dog Treats (2000).
Canadian Communicable Disease Report 26(06):41-42.

"In August 1999, the province of Alberta reported an increase in Salmonella Infantis cases. The initial investigation conducted by the regional public-health authority of Calgary, Alberta, demonstrated that eight of 12 S. Infantis cases were dog owners, and that nine of 12 had had exposure to pig ear dog treats."

Joffe DJ, Schlesinger DP (2002).
Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets.
Canadian Veterinary Journal, 43(6):441-2.

"Salmonella was isolated from 80% of the BARF diet samples (P Kang JH, Kondo F (2002).
Determination of bisphenol A in canned pet foods.
Research in Veterinary Science, 73(2):177-82.

"The concentration of BPA ranged from 13 to 136 ng/g in canned cat food and from 11 to 206 ng/g in dog food."

Maia PP, Pereira Bastos de Siqueira ME (2002).
Occurrence of aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2 in some Brazilian pet foods.
Food Additives and Contaminants, 19(12):1180-3.

"One hundred food samples (45 for dogs, 25 for cats, 30 for birds) were collected at random from pet shops in Alfenas city, south-east Brazil. [...] Aflatoxins were detected in 12.0% of the samples."

New, L. (n.d.)
Salmonella and the raw diet.
Mountain Dog Food website [viewed on 16Nov03].

Sato Y, Mori T, Koyama T, Nagase H (2000).
Salmonella virchow infection in an infant transmitted by household dogs.
Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 62(7):767-9.

Syufy, F (2003).
Go! Natural Pet Foods Recall: Canadian company recalls all products manufactured in Texas.
About.com October 26, 2003.

Texas Agricultural Experimental Station, Office of the State Chemist (1998).
Dog Food Recall. November 2, 1998.

"Doane Products Company announced today a recall of dry dog food produced between July 1 and August 31, 1998, at its Temple, Texas plant. [...] Doane officials said a veterinary diagnostic laboratory has attributed the deaths of approximately 25 dogs to aflatoxins. Aflatoxins result from a naturally occurring mold which at high levels can cause liver damage. The mold may be more likely to occur in corn that has been subjected to extreme weather conditions."

Theyse LF, van de Brom WE, van Sluijs FJ (1998).
Small size of food particles and age as risk factors for gastric dilatation volvulus in great danes.
Veterinary Record, 143(2):48-50.

"Dogs fed a diet containing particles of food > 30 mm in size (kibble and/or dinner and/or home-prepared food with large pieces of meat) had a lower risk of GDV than dogs fed a diet containing only particles USDA - U.S. Dept. Of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (1995).
An outbreak of e. coli O157:H7 How could it happen?
Food Safety and Inspection Service Flyer, July 1995.

"Illness from the O157:H7 bacteria has been caused by foods including undercooked ground beef, roast beef, raw milk, improperly processed cider, contaminated water, mayonnaise, cantaloupes, vegetables grown in cow manure and salami (a dry sausage). Outbreaks have also started in cross-contamination at food service outlets--delicatessens, grocery carryouts and salad bars"

White DG, Datta A, McDermott P, Friedman S, Qaiyumi S, Ayers S, English L, McDermott S, Wagner DD, Zhao S (2003).
Antimicrobial susceptibility and genetic relatedness of Salmonella serovars isolated from animal-derived dog treats in the USA.
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 52(5):860-3.

"A total of 158 dog treats derived from pig ears and other animal parts were randomly collected nationwide and assayed for the presence of Salmonella. [...] Forty-one percent (65/158) of samples were positive for Salmonella. [...] CONCLUSIONS: The study indicates that animal-derived dog treats in the USA could be a potential source of animal and human infections with Salmonella, including multidrug-resistant Salmonella strains."

Willis C (2001).
Isolation of Salmonella species from imported dog chews.
Veterinary Record, 149(14):426-7.

Copyright 2003, Stacy Pober. All rights reserved.
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    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 3:25PM
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spedigrees z4VT

The biggest risk of any type of commercial pet food in my opinion is not bacterial agents or mold, but Chinese melamine. That is why I stopped feeding it in 2007 (after the death of an estimated 40,000 American pets - estimate by a CA veterinarian) and also why I stopped buying anything containing preserved milk products for us.

I'm not thrilled about the fact that virtually all supermarket meat comes from feedlots chocked full of GM corn, but I have no source of grass fed meat here. So that is something I can't help.

I've no doubt that the cats' diet of wild critters is more infested with worms (and certainly with fleas) than supermarket beef and poultry, but any raw meat brings with it the chance of parasitic infection. Since my dogs are exposed to parasites anyways, mostly from my cat, this isn't a huge deterrent, as I de-worm cat & dogs 4 to 8 times yearly on average (and the pony every month).

I really have in mind feeding an occasional raw pot roast and possibly chicken thighs and legs in the future, as an addition to my cooked diet. It would reduce the hours I spend chopping and cooking, which is considerable.

Also having a dog again who likes eggs would help. My collie dislikes eggs and anything containing eggs (meatloaf for instance.) Go figure! I used to feed a lot of hardboiled and scrambled eggs to my sheltie. They are a great source of nearly complete nutrition.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 4:33PM
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spedigrees, you have about covered it all! while there are obvious risks to feeding raw meat, i believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. as you point out, even kibble is not free of risks. the simple fact is that since my dogs have been eating raw for just over 2 months now, their energy levels are over the top (so they MUST feel good), their coats are unbelievably soft and shiny (what better judge of health?), bentley NEVER has eye boogers like he did before he began eating raw, they sleep like rocks and wake with renewed energy. not to mention, their poop is awesome! little bitty turds that dry up and crumble in a day or two.

speaking of poop, i was recently talking to my vet. he was asking how the raw diet was going for my dogs and when i mentioned the fact that their poop is small and crumbly, he said THAT is how poop SHOULD be! thankfully, my vet is one of the few i have encountered that does not have a problem with me feeding raw. in another couple of weeks, i will have blood work done on all 3 dogs just to make sure their innards are as healthy as their outters. :D

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 5:26PM
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It is really nice with the quickly decomposing poop eh? That's great ninapearl that your vet is on board too! I am also fortunate in that my vet is ok with raw feeding.
I truly believe that my old girl would not be aging as well as she is were it not for the diet (and a few extra supps for her arthritis).
Love to continue to hear how it goes!!
Speedigrees, i am curious about which cooked diet you do for your pups? I did the Pitchairn diet for years before switching to raw and I can definitely say, while I did it with love, I don't miss all the prep work. :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 5:57PM
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LOL yeah, the decomposing poop is just about the best part when you have 3 great danes! we had 17 inches of snow 3 weeks ago. today is the first day i have been able to get out and clean up poop. cleaning up poop now consists of simply stepping on it to crumble it into the ground. i might actually have grass growing out here on the sand this summer! **happy dance** :D

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 7:02PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Hi everyone. The last couple days have been busy and stressful so I haven't had time to thank everyone for the posts or to reply to them in any kind of depth. Last night what was supposed to be my dog and cat's routine annual vet appointment became a grim event when the doctor discovered a large mass on my collie's abdomen. So Prince is now basically on hospice care, with daily fluids, metacam, and an antibiotic for an infection which he also has. We lost our sheltie a few months before and now this... It seems like both dogs were puppies just yesterday, but it has been many years..

Anyways back to the raw feeding... Ladybug, thanks for the informative post. I concur with what you wrote about raw feeding not a good idea for the very young, the old, and those with compromised immune systems due to the danger of bacterial contamination.

E-coli, salmonella, and mold are a danger with any type of food, and are not one of my major concerns. I think that cooking foods particularly prone to such contamination (eggs for instance) as well as practicing good sanitation and selecting only fresh meats can combat this, as you've also noted.

My main concern I guess, are whatever dangers (uncooked)bones actually pose. My vet clinic's newsletter states that they do not recommend feeding *any* bones, and on the forum that I mentioned no vet or vet tech would touch a woman's question as to why her small dog's rectum became impacted with bone fragments shortly after she began feeding him a raw diet, other than to state they do not recommend feeding bones. I would really like to read an in-depth article authored by a vet explaining the actual dangers of raw bones and citing case examples seen in their practice. I would like to be able to weigh the dangers and have some sense of proportion as to how likely the dangers are and the circumstances likely to result in impaction or some other adverse event.

As I've said, none of my cats were ever harmed by the small mammal and bird bones they've consumed over the course of their lifetimes, so this of course weighs in on the positive side.

I'm also concerned with parasites, but since I have everyone on a regular de-worming schedule anyways, this wouldn't deter me from feeding some raw foods.

On the subject of more compact poop, I read about a new all meat/no filler dog food being marketted in the Scandinavian countries. It was promoted as a solution to the problem of dog poop in public areas.

Let's see, Ladybugfruit, the cooked diet I feed is my own. I cook approx 6 lbs of ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc) or finely chopped liver or stewing beef and add powdered calcium carbonate or baked ground eggshell. I also add filler (rice, potatoes, macaroni, or oatmeal.) I dislike adding filler but with 100 lbs of collective dog (collie & sheltie) I could not afford to feed all meat. Now that the sheltie has passed on, I feed less or no filler. At least the filler I added was less than was in the commercial dog foods I used to feed. I also have made meatloaf of crumbled organic bread, beaten eggs and ground beef (calcium powder added) that my sheltie loved but my collie doesn't so I don't make it for him. He likes poultry best, so I sometimes bake a 20 lb turkey and pull all the meat off the bones, freeze part of it and feed the rest.

I supplement dog food with a vitamin mineral supplement and digestive enzymes.

For my cat food, I add no filler, because she is a small animal, but add all the same supplements, and some taurine as well to her food. She mostly likes chicken so that is primarily what I feed. Occasionally she can be tempted to eat some tuna or other meats, but mostly she eats chicken, pulled off the bones and pulled apart into tiny shredded bits.

The vet did remark on my 18 yr old cat's execptionally good health, considering her age. The fluids she gets weekly certainly contribute to her health, but I figure her nutritional needs must be met as she's been on the home cooked diet for the past 4 years. Both my dogs too, despite their final old age illnesses had/have shiney coats and no sign of dietary deficiencies.

I think when I have a younger dog or two (closer in my future than I like to think of) I will supplement the diet with some raw feeding and see how it goes.

Ladybug, how long have your dogs been on the raw diet?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 2:27PM
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Oh Speeidgree, I am SO SORRY to hear about Prince!! Even when they are old this is a difficult pill to swallow. I lost 2 of my senior dogs to cancer and it's never easy...they make such a deep impression on our hearts. Please keep us posted. I will keep ya'll in prayer.
What you do cooking wise sounds very similar to what I did when I was cooking ( and yeah, some filler such as oatmeal, rice etc. were used in my cooking as well, at the time I had 4 dogs). Sounds like you are well versed in balanced nutrition for your pups and cats.
I've been raw feeding for 6 years now with great success.
I realized that neither Sadie nor Tasha has ever had kibble in their lives with me ( since Sadie was about 1 when I rescued her and Tasha, 10 weeks old). Tasha has such a delicate system, I shudder to think how her health would be on kibble ( not knocking anyone on that decision). She's otherwise very healty, but her immune system is very sensitive due to a battle with hemolytic anemia when she was 2. We are lucky to still have her! Have to be vigilant with her still though. Several years ago she was bit by a spider and had an allergic reaction that lasted 4 days. That was with benadryl and injections to stop the reaction. That's the part about living in a rural community now that makes me nervous for her. She so loves her yard and all the wonders that nature brings..I just have to be watchful and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 5:52PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Thank you Ladybug for the kind words. The fluids seem to be helping Prince feel better. He seems somewhat brighter tonight, but I'm still adjusting to the news from the vet exam.

Cooking for your 4 dogs must have been quite a chore! What breed or size dogs were/are yours? I feel like I'm running a soup kitchen here with my giant pots and industrial sized spoons and two refrigerators.

6 years is a long time to have been feeding the raw diet, long enough to know that it is working safely for your dogs. Do you buy your meat at the supermarket or at a wholesale place? Do you buy in large quantity?

Poor Tasha! I hate spiders! My dogs like(d) to sleep under the back steps and in the fall they often got bitten by spiders on their faces or noses (the only place on their furry bodies with short hair.) Fortunately neither one was allergic to the venom and we don't have brown recluse or other dangerous spiders here. Tippi once looked like a little chipmunk with a swollen cheek and her little white stripe on her face after an encounter with a spider. We were singing to her "along came a spider who sat down beside her..." and "Itsy bitsy spider climbed up the doggie snout.."

Thank you for your input about raw feeding and cooking too. I may make a pest of myself and ask more questions by and by.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 1:56AM
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I am so glad the fluids are helping...it is quite a slap in the face to get that kind of news from the vet..especially if you weren't really prepared for it (I know things can come up as they age, but it's so much nicer to live in denial as long as we can sometimes, pretend they are healthy). My vet knows that if ever there is bad news, to give it to me privately,away from the dogs so they don't pick up on my initial reaction. I was so grieved openly when my first dogs was diagnosed (the love of my life dog) and didn't realize til later that I put more of a burden on him because he wanted to make me not sad. I digress.
My four were Boo ( my love) a jack russel/aussie mix, beagle, Socki (aka total handful all the time), then Sadie(Ridgeback/greyhound mix) and Tasha my sharpei mix (also has some brittney spaniel but total disposition of sharpei). Yes, it was a labor of love, I was always cooking for someone!
Now that I just have 2, I generally buy my meat at the supermarket, but if I find a better deal and have room in the freezer, I will buy wholesale. I have 2 frigs,so I have some room, but gotta keep room for people food too! :)
At this point, I pretty much have a routine with a bit of "mix em up" where I find interesting (ok, I refuse to do tripe since it's so smelly). Funny though, Tasah is not much into change, lol, if I give her a different part of the chicken besides the leg quarter, she looks at me like I am crazy. So while I can mix it up some, I can't stray too far from the familiar yummies. The big key is balance over time and finding what works for your pack. I am a bit of research nerd too, so I am very versed on whatever is out there on canine nutrition. I am always happy to let someone "pick my brain" and if I don't know the answer, I will try and find one. Kinda goes along with my work too (massage therapist). I work with an older population with many health issues, so I am always learning because they know I will find a way to help them educate themselves ( not to mention I learn more!). Be as pesty as you like. I love to help where I can.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 8:30AM
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spedigrees, im SO sorry to hear about prince. i hope he is comfortable. (((hugs))) i know what it's like to lose 2 so close together. first my corgi girl from nasal cancer and then my corgi boy, degenerative myelopathy, just 5 months apart. so hard to see them age and/or become so ill. *sigh* wishing your sweet boy the best!

i gave my dogs cornish hens last night for supper. they had NO idea what to do with them. bentley picked his up and packed it around the house for a couple of minutes. ashley just kept licking hers, pea looked at it, cocked her head, looked some more and then dove in. once the other 2 dogs saw her crunching, they followed suit and shortly, all 3 hens were down the hatch. so funny to watch them with something new.

i wish i could find green tripe but nobody around here sells it and it's pretty pricey to order it online. i did find some bleached tripe and while, nutritionally it has no value, i gave it to them (outside) just for fun.

i tried beef again a few days ago and unlike the first time, it did not make any of the dogs "urpy" so i think that will be another item i look for on sale. also, i have found that the only way pea likes liver or kidney is if it is frozen solid. the other 2 will eat it fresh. so far, i have given them only chicken liver but will see if i can find some beef liver soon.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:57AM
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