Raw pet food poses health risks: warning

Veterinary and public health officials say pet owners who put their animals on raw-food diets need to take added health precautions.
Veterinary and public health officials say pet owners who put their animals on raw-food diets need to take added health precautions.

"There is evidence of potential health risks for pets fed raw meat based diets, and for humans in contact with such pets," reads a warning issued by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

People who choose to feed their pets raw food should be very careful because of possible contamination, said Wanda Vockeroth, a veterinarian who practices both conventional and holistic veterinary medicine.  

"They have to be very careful handling the food and storing it and cleaning it up afterwards," she said.  "The stools [the animals] pass out may be more highly contaminated with bacteria, or just by handling the food itself people might come in contact with more bacterial contamination. They might pick up some kind of illness,"  Vockeroth said.

People in households with seniors or very young children need to be particularly careful, she said.

Pet owners who feed their animals raw food need to take the same precautions they would when handling raw meat for human consumption, said raw food pet proponent Christian Jeanotte.

"Just safe handling and everything should be fine," he said while buying raw cat food at a Calgary pet supply store. "It's definitely healthier for the animals. Their systems are designed for raw food."