Giving pets raw food comes with risks, Sudbury vet says

Sudbury veterinarians are warning people that feeding pets raw food can be dangerous for both animals and humans.
A Sudbury veterinarian says a dog on raw food can spread salmonella in its saliva and feces. (Erik White/CBC)

Sudbury veterinarians are warning people that feeding pets raw food can be dangerous for both animals and humans.

Dr. Janice Vannevel said she is seeing an increase in clients who are following the trend towards raw, less processed pet food.

But she noted it can lead to salmonella poisoning for the pet's family. Vannevel also said the bones in some diets can shatter dog teeth. She said she and most of her Sudbury colleagues try to convince pet owners to go back to a regular diet.

"Usually after they've had to pay to have a broken tooth removed or a severe intestinal infection treated, then those people tend to stop feeding raw food diets."

Joli Bianchin, the owner of a Sudbury pet health food store, says she's had some customers who have been dropped by their veterinarian because they choose a raw food diet. (Erik White/CBC)

But the owner of Tail Blazers, a pet health store selling raw food that recently opened in Sudbury's south end, said veterinarians are greatly exaggerating the dangers of raw food.

Joli Bianchin said a raw meat and vegetable diet is healthier than traditional pet food. But she added some of her raw food customers have been discharged as a client by their vet. 

"It's a change. There's a change happening in Sudbury. And sometimes there's a lot of fear around change."

Bianchin said these concerns have prompted her to host a "Raw Food Myths" public information night this Wednesday at her south end store.

Natural food source

In the meantime, veterinarians are telling their staff to wear gloves and masks when handling dogs that are eating raw food diets — and they say the owners of those pets should probably do the same at home.

Dr. Janice Vannevel says she is seeing more and more clients who are following the trend towards raw, less processed pet food. (Erik White/CBC)

A dog that consumes raw food can spread salmonella in its saliva and feces, Vannevel said.

She added the raw food trend is fuelled by a misunderstanding of what's in regular dog food.

"I wish there was a kibble for me,” she said.

“To be honest, it'd be a lot easier to get my nutrition that way."

Bianchin said raw meats and vegetables are simply a more natural food source for dogs and cats.

“We handle raw meat on a daily basis. Do we have to wear gloves? Do we have to wear protective masks? We don't,” she said.

However, Bianchin does tell customers to wash hands, bowls and anything else that touches the raw pet food.


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