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September 2, 2013

Raw pet food: Is it right for your dog or cat?

(Continued)

The AVMA is stricter in its response to the diet and in August 2012 adopted a policy that discourages the use of raw pet food. "Our full concern is the risk to animal health and public health from bacterial contamination," says Gary Chico, chair of the AVMA's council of public health and regulatory medicine.

Proponents of the diet say that because dogs and cats evolved eating raw prey, their digestive systems are more hostile to bacteria, so they are less likely to get sick.

"Even if we think that some dogs are able to handle those pathogens better than humans or other [animals], which is debatable, we feel like there's a risk out there," the ASPCA's Bough says. "Even if the animal doesn't become ill, there's potentially a public health risk for the people that are around the animals and the people that might be around the animal feces in the yard."

Tasi always asks about the health of family members before recommending a raw diet. If an animal or someone in the house has a suppressed immune system, for example, "I'm not so sure I'd put them on a raw food diet," she says.

But when the situation is appropriate for a cat to eat a well-balanced raw food diet, Tasi will advocate for it. She says she has seen diabetes, asthma, diarrhea, vomiting and urinary tract conditions, as well as a host of other problems, reverse after feline patients have gone raw.

"The reason that I feel that this is important is that I have seen miracles happen," she says.

Krulik is a freelance writer.

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