Sudbury veterinarian warns of the risks of feeding raw meat to your pet

A Sudbury veterinarian is weighing in on a debate among pet owners: whether to switch your dog or cat to a raw meat diet.

Dr. Darren Stinson says raw meat costs more and can make you sick

A Sudbury veterinarian is weighing in on a debate among pet owners: whether to switch your dog or cat to a raw meat diet.

Some pet owners argue dogs and cats are historically carnivores and would eat meat in the wild. Pet stores selling the products have started opening in various communities.

Sudbury veterinarian Darren Stinson says he compares the raw meat debate to that swirling around vaccinations.

"Proponents of raw food feeding are incredibly emotional about the feeding of raw food to their pets," he said.

"Sometimes, the facts and scientific data that's out there … gets thrown by the wayside."

Stinson says people who believe in the raw meat diet report a number of benefits, including a decrease in diseases. He says he's even heard claims that raw pet food will reduce the chance of genetic problems occurring.

"These are not supported by scientific data unfortunately," he said. "You're not going to find clinical trials that support feeding of raw food."

Darren Stinson is a veterinarian based in Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Stinson says along with a lack of data to back up a raw food diet, there are also risks involved including a chance of your pet passing along an infectious disease to you.

"Many of the raw food diets, in fact more than 60 per cent of them, are contaminated with salmonella, E. coli and listeria," he said.

"Bacteria may not necessarily make your pet ill, but can make you sick."

He says that can easily happen if you pet your dog and then eat without washing your hands first.

Stinson says he does have clients come to his clinic who feed their pets raw food. When that happens, he says the client is given information on the risks of raw food and how to avoid getting sick.

He adds raw food is also typically more expensive than traditional food.

"I don't believe the added expense outweighs the risk to you or your pet," he said. "There's about a 40 per cent chance that healthy adults or older children will get sick."

Stinson says that increases to a 90 per cent chance of illness for the young and those with compromised immune systems.

With files from Markus Schwabe


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