Should I or Should I Not Feed My Dog a Raw Food Diet?

Posted on January 14th, 2017


Much of the veterinary world and the pet owners are being introduced to raw foods and their benefits.

Unfortunately some of the benefits of feeding a raw food diet may be outweighed by the possible harm a raw food diet may cause your pet.

This will be the decision you and your veterinarian can make, after reading this article.

What actually comprises a raw food diet?

The following ingredients are listed by WebMD:

  • Muscle, which contains ground up bones, or whole bones.
  • Organ meats that include liver, kidney, spleen and heart.
  • Raw eggs.
  • Various kinds of raw vegetables like spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.
  • Fruits, including apples.
  • Dairy products including yogurt.

The concerns about feeding a raw diet are as follows:

  • Raw muscle can contain dangerous bacteria that, when left uncooked, might cause harm to the owner handling the raw meat and also to the pet who is eating the raw muscle.
  • The whole bones that may be present in the raw diet can cause choking and perforations of the stomach and intestines. The whole bones or even bone fragments that are present in the raw diet may cause definite dental problems, including fractured teeth.
  • Raw eggs are a concern with the possibility of containing salmonella bacteria.
  • Determine which dairy products are being used in the raw food diet before feeding the raw food diet, because some dairy products can cause a food allergy which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and a skin allergy.

For both your information and mine, WebMD lists the following foods that may be very harmful to your pet if SHARED and eaten (I believe many of us are innocently guilty of sharing our left over foods and snacks with a our pets, without realizing the possible harm that might occur):

  • Many different products that contain sugar like candy, gum, toothpaste, bakery goods and any foods that contain Xylitol can cause problems for your pet. The Xylitol can cause a drop in blood glucose resulting in a state of hypoglycemia and liver disease.
  • Avocados, which seem harmless, are definitely not. Any part of the fruit, bark and leaves contain a toxic chemical for canines called Persun, which in quantity will cause death.
  • Alcohol in any form of liquor, like beer, wine, whisky or baked goods will cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficult breathing, coordination difficulties, liver damage and possible death.
  • Any part of an onion or garlic can cause vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing and possibly death.
  • Any product that contains caffeine like coffee, tea and any other products that contain caffeine-like energy drinks can cause restlessness, rapid breathing, and muscle fasciculations.
  • Grapes and raisins can lead to early vomiting, depression and finally, kidney failure and death.
  • Milk and other dairy products can cause a food allergy and vomiting, diarrhea and a skin allergy.
  • Macadamia nuts can cause your pet to have a high fever, muscle fasciculations, and rear, leg lameness.
  • Chocolate is often a favorite snack to give to our pets, for a treat. Unfortunately, the chocolate contains a chemical referred to as theobromine, which is  more concentrated in dark chocolate and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, heart problems seizures and finally death.
  • Fat trimmings seem to be harmless however they can cause your pet to develop a pancreatitis, which can be fatal.
  • Bones are often a favorite for keeping your pets teeth clean, but that makes about enough sense as you chewing on hard bones. Not only can the bone shatter and be swallowed by your pet and can perforate the stomach or intestines. Also in general, the bones will wear down the teeth and often cause fractures of the teeth.
  • The bone fragments can also cause vomiting, diarrhea and possible intestinal obstruction.
  • Persimmons, peaches and plums all contain pits that can cause an intestinal obstruction or if they are broken apart, will expose your pet to possible cyanide poisoning.
  • Raw eggs are of concern, because they may contain salmonella.
  • Raw meats are also of concern, because they may contain harmful bacteria.
  • Raw fish, particularly salmon, trout, shad and sturgeon can all carry a parasite in their muscle tissue that can cause “fish diseases” or “salmon poisoning disease”
  • Signs of this disease may begin with vomiting, high fever and swelling of the lymph nodes.
  • Salt. If you pet is given too many potato chips, pretzels and other salt containing snacks, you may see vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, an elevated temperature, seizures and death
  • Sugary foods and soft drinks can lead to overweight, tooth decay and diabetes.
  • Raw yeast dough, if given in small pieces to your dog, can swell up in the stomach and cause severe pain, and as the yeast ferments, it will create alcohol, which can cause its own problems for your pet.

Hopefully this article will point out the good and the bad of feeding a raw diet to your pet and also feeding what we may think are innocent snacks.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope some of these thoughts will help your pet lead a happier, healthier, longer life.


Dr. Al Plechner