Happy New Year!

The holidays are over and it’s time to start anew. Maybe you’d like to clock more time at the gym, finally finish the scrapbook you started or put more cash in that savings account. Or maybe you’ve made a resolution to eat healthier—and you’d like your pet to do the same.

You’ve likely heard about the raw food movement for humans, but many people are now raving about the benefits of uncooked, homemade meals for their pets. If you’re curious about the craze, read our guide for everything you need to know before tossing the kibble out.

There are three main types of raw food:

  • Commercially available diets: These are usually frozen and intended to be complete and balanced.
  • Homemade diet recipes: These rely on the owner to supplement the diet for long-term use.
  • Commercial mixes: These are a mix of grains and supplements that the owner mixes with raw meat.


Fact or fiction? Raw food is nutritionally superior to commercial diets.


  • Studies have tested a variety of these diets. From these studies, none were found to be completely balanced and all had nutrient deficiencies or deficits.
  • AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) sets standards for all commercially prepared diets.
  • Diets can meet standards by formulation or food trials.
  • Raw food diets are not marketed as “complete and balanced” so they do not need to conform to AAFCO standards. This means no trials!
  • Feeding trials are necessary to see if these diets are suitable for long-term use.


Fact or fiction? Animals can tolerate the bacteria in raw food better than humans can.


  • A highly pathogenic strain of E. Coli has been found in one out of five commercial raw food diets tested.
  • Two cats’ deaths from Salmonellosis directly related to raw food were reported in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association in 2003.
  • About 20 to 25 percent of human food grade poultry tests positive for Salmonella, which is normally killed when cooked.
  • Up to 89 percent of pork is infected with bacteria known as yersinia enterocolitica.
  • Many other food borne-parasites can affect pets eating raw food, such as fish tapeworms, trematodes and kidney worms.


Fact or fiction? Raw food improves the health of pets.


  • No evidence is available to support this claim.
  • Wolves only live to be eight years old in wild, but can live up to 16 in captivity on a commercial diet.
  • Dogs were domesticated between 10,000 and 135,000 years ago and have evolved to eat our cooked scraps.


Fact or fiction? Cooking food makes it harder to digest and destroys the nutrients.

Photo Credit: Flickr


  • Cooking food will change its protein chemical composition, but no evidence suggests that the raw form of nutrients is more beneficial.
  • Example: Albumin in egg whites becomes denatured when cooked, but becomes easier to digest.
  • Cooking increases the digestibility of vegetables because the cellulose layer is broken down by heat. Starches contained in carbohydrate sources will gelatinize with cooking and also become more digestible.


Interested in changing your pet's diet? Click here to schedule a diet & nutrition consultation with integrative medicine expert, Dr. Kathy Boehme


This information was taken from the AAHA Long Beach Seminar: Raw Food Diet Myths in 2006.