Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.  
Canton, CT

Specialties: general practice

Interests: critical care, oncology, surgery
Canton Animal Hospital LLC
Canton, CT
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Raw Pet Food Diets: Common Sense

Nov 21, 2009 - 21 comments




Dear Mr. _____________,

I had the opportunity to hear this morning's segment with your sponsor, __________  As a loyal, long-term listener, I feel it is my duty to bring an important public health concern associated with the feeding of raw meat-based diets to pets. That concern is one that may affect both pets and people to the detriment of both.

As I am sure you have heard, there have been numerous alerts, recalls and reports of food-borne illness reported in the last couple of years, associated with uncooked or undercooked meats served to human consumers in restaurants or sold to them in stores. The under-appreciated truth of our meat production industry, indeed of any nation's meat production, is that absolute certainty of freedom from sickness-causing bacteria in meat cannot be assured. The slaughter process, designed to minimize contamination with animal feces and bacteria to be found within, and in spite of robust USDA imposed safeguards, is not 100% effective and it never will be.

Thus, the final link in a chain that may lead to human (and animal) illness is appropriate cooking of meat, sufficient to kill any disease causing bacteria such as E. Coli 0157 and various Salmonella species that may contaminate animal carcasses. The use of raw meat for direct feeding to pets breaks this final prevention safeguard and puts both people and animals at risk. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, including the vast majority of their individual members, recommend that pet owners do not feed such diets, as the risks are just too high. I emphasize, that while a small minority of veterinarians may disagree, the vast majority of mainstream veterinary doctors do not recommend raw meat diets for animals.

It is true that not every batch, or even many batches of meat may be contaminated sufficiently to cause disease. The problem is the same as in a game of Russian roulette, as you just never know which chamber has a live round nor when a batch will be contaminated. Is that a chance worth taking with your pet's health, for an unproven contention that raw foods are somehow more "natural"? I shouldn't think so. Is it a risk worth taking with your human loved one's?

Indeed, proponents of raw pet food usually cite the fact that wild animals eat raw meat, so therefore so should our pets. The truth is a lot more nuanced.Wild creatures live much shorter lives than do our pets, in a daily contest of survival of the fittest. Most coyotes and wolves, for example, are gone by 7 or 8 years old. Pet dogs and cats, however, are now living into their teens quite commonly. Diet is not the only reason for this, but it does not follow that eating raw meat is a positive factor. Most pet animals are not eating raw diets now and live long anyway. Their safer, indoor lives while eating consistent professionally designed commercial diets are one likely reason. That, and better health care than in decades past is another.

Finally, there is real risk to the consumer with feeding raw meat diets to pets, as hands, counter-tops, utensils and dishes invariably become contaminated with meat juices and thus possibly with bacteria. The most susceptible among us, the very young, the very old, those with immune system suppression due to cancer, chemotherapy, HIV or other illnesses are the most at risk. Is this a gamble we want to take with with loved ones?

Please see the attached AVMA journal article, especially the "Conclusions and Clinical Relevance" section, to find verification for what I am communicating to you. If you are interested in further information, or possibly discussing this issue on the air, please don't hesitate to contact me. I realize the sensitivity of disseminating facts that might embarrass a sponsor, however, food-borne illness is one of the biggest public health issues of our time. Meat contamination is a major element in these episodes.  _____, I know you care about your listeners, and about people in general. I’m certain you would not want to be on the wrong side of this issue should a pet, or person, become ill from food-borne illness and the cause is later traced to raw meat diets fed to pets.

For you information, I am a practicing veterinarian very close to completion of a Master's degree in Public Health. Thank you.


Arnold L.  Goldman DVM, MS

Enclosure:  “Evaluation of bacterial and protozoal contamination of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs”, Strohmeyer et al, JAVMA 2/15/2006 (SEE ABSTRACT, JUST BELOW)


Evaluation of bacterial and protozoal contamination
of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs

Rachel A. Strohmeyer, DVM, MS; Paul S. Morley, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Doreene R. Hyatt, PhD;
David A. Dargatz, DVM, DACVIM; A. Valeria Scorza, VMD, MS; Michael R. Lappin, DVM, PhD, DACVIM

Objective—To evaluate bacterial and protozoal contamination
of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs.

Design—Prospective longitudinal study.

Sample Population—240 samples from 20 raw
meat diets for dogs (containing beef, lamb, chicken, or
turkey), 24 samples from 2 dry dog foods, and 24
samples from 2 canned dog foods.

Procedure—Each product was purchased commercially
on 4 dates approximately 2 months apart. Three
samples from each product at each sampling period
were evaluated via bacterial culture for non–type-specific
Escherichia coli (NTSEC), Salmonella enterica,
and Campylobacter spp. Antimicrobial susceptibility
testing was performed on selected isolates.
Polymerase chain reaction assays were used to
detect DNA from Cryptosporidium spp, Neospora
spp, and Toxoplasma spp in samples obtained in the
third and fourth sampling periods.

Results—One hundred fifty-three of 288 (53%) samples
were contaminated with NTSEC. Both raw and
prepared foods contained NTSEC during at least 1 culture
period. Salmonella enterica was recovered from
17 (5.9%) samples, all of which were raw meat products.
Campylobacter spp was not isolated from any
samples. In 91 of 288 (31.6%) samples, there was no
gram-negative bacterial growth before enrichment and
in 48 of 288 (16.7%) samples, there was no aerobic
bacterial growth before enrichment. Susceptibility
phenotypes were variable. Cryptosporidium spp DNA
was detected in 3 samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Bacterial
contamination is common in commercially available
raw meat diets, suggesting that there is a risk of
foodborne illness in dogs fed these diets as well possible
risk for humans associated with the dogs or
their environments.

(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006;228: 537–542)

From the Animal Population Health Institute (Strohmeyer, Morley,
Hyatt) and the Department of Clinical Sciences (Scorza, Lappin),
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; and the USDA,
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services,
Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health, 2150 Centre
Avenue, Bldg B, Fort Collins, CO 80526 (Dargatz).

Supported by the Animal Population Health Institute through a
grant from the United States Department of Agriculture
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and
by the James L. Voss Veterinary Medical Center, Colorado State

Post a Comment
874521 tn?1424116797
by opus88, Nov 21, 2009
thank you so much for that informative post.
My cat has allergies to his food and I am trying MANY alternatives to feed him to avoid the use of steroids or immunosuppressants.
Therefore one of the foods I have been TRYING to introduce to him is a raw food diet of RABBIT....he doesn't like at all!
After reading all the concerns with this raw diet I now think I will discontinue.
Why can we not buy rabbit or lamb(without the chicken) in commercial can cat food?
Even all the dry foods have a CHICKEN base to them.
Again I thank you for passing along this information.

931217 tn?1283481335
by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Nov 21, 2009
It may not be true, that the ingredient your cat has a dietary hypersensitivity to, is a major protein in the foods you have tried. A major protein being chicken, beef, even rabbit. I am assuming the signs your cat had were and or are, either diarrhea, vomiting or both.

Questions: Has your cat been diagnosed with dietary hypersensitivity? Has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or intestinal cancer been ruled out as inappropriate diagnoses? Has the cat had endoscopic biopsies if IBD and intestinal cancer have not been ruled out? (If your cat is young cancer is highly unlikely, however, IBD is very under-diagnosed in cats with chronic diarrhea and or vomiting.

If a true dietary hypersensitivity exists, rather than IBD,  it can be diagnosed with a restricted protein diet and a resolution of signs on that diet. You might want to discuss with your veterinarian an 8 week trial with a hydrolyzed protein therapeutic diet such as Hill's Z/D. Such diets have very small protein molecules which the immune system of the body cannot recognize as foreign protein. It is this foreign protein recognition and the response to it that leads to signs in such cases.Thus hypersensitivity should cease and so should symptoms. Then reintroduction of the original food should cause the signs to return. Z/D could be fed for life, if you cannot determine what protein(s) are the culprit.

Regardless, raw meat from any source poses risks to you and your pet. I wish you good luck in resolving your cats signs!

746512 tn?1388807580
by Tammy2009, Nov 21, 2009
to opus88

There are numerous pet foods without chicken.  
Eagle Pack Holistic Lamb (probably has fish in it, not 100% about no chicken though)
Wellness has a straight lamb
Acana has a straight lamb

You just need to find a large pet store that is knowledge so do some internet research and see if a store can order you in food.  

Raw food is the one area I have stayed away from researching because they is very little real research about it and all the info out there is mostly opinion based.  However, cats/dogs are different from us in regards to their suspectiblity to bacteria in raw meat.  The problem is that we have been breeding cats/dogs for a LONG time and thus they aren't wolves anymore!!  The amount of animals that have problems with high-protein diets is proof of that.  Some animals do amazing on high-protein kibble and thus I believe there are those that would be well on raw food but they is more of a risk to us than to the pets.  They eat the raw chicken, then kiss our faces.  The dog themself may not become sick from samonella but we could, what if you have a toddler playing on the floor and dog dish which the dog finished from and then ***** on their fingers?

Maybe working outdoor dogs (sledding, hunting etc) that need high protein/fat and calories to which are not in the house as a family pet MAY (or may not) do well on raw food, I don't think it's the right way for feeding house pets.  

931217 tn?1283481335
by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Nov 21, 2009
I would prefer that comments on this blog post about raw diets, stay strictly on the topic of raw diets only.
Particular animals with problems should be posted on the appropriate board. I responded to opus88 here perhaps inappropriately, but with an intent to be helpful and kind. I prefer that others who may comment, not range into opus88's post or my reply. As a practicing veterinarian, I am qualified to respond to animal health concerns.

Nutrition is a controversial topic in and of itself, and about which there are many so called experts. My feeling is, if someone doesn't have an advanced degree in animal nutrition,  opinions not based on peer reviewed literature are just that.

Pet stores, both large and small, do not generally employ persons with advanced degrees in animal nutrition, but rather clerks and managerial staff with sales and customer service training. Relying on their advice alone is like relying on commercial advertising. They are in business to make money and diet sales is a huge industry. The fact is, even if a pet food was entirely unhealthy, it might take years for the pet to show symptoms. Its easy to be an expert when adverse affects are delayed, or never occur in any obvious or traceable way.

Dogs and cats are most certainly NOT different from us in "regards to their susceptibility to bacteria in raw meat. "
I say this with kindness, but you have been misinformed. The fact that they often taste filthy or disgusting things and don't get sick every time, does not become equivalent to the routine feeding of potentially contaminated meat.

Finally, my point in this blog post is to inform the public that even if it could be true that "some dogs may do better on a raw diet" the risks to people especially are too high and thus such diets should not be fed.

Thank you.

Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MS

506791 tn?1439842983
by Piparskeggr, Nov 21, 2009
I recall reading an article long and long ago about a peer reviewed study done at Yale University about the eating habits of domestic cats.  The conclusions were that cats liked "mouse-sized" portions (several times a day) and preferred cooked rodent to raw rodent.

Dr Goldman references important points: the discovery of cooking was a major step forward in mankind's development.  Cooked proteins are easier to chew and more completely digestible.  Heat kills both parasites and bacteria.  Less exposure to these equals a better health baseline.

874521 tn?1424116797
by opus88, Nov 21, 2009
Tammy thanks for that info...I live in a small town but will do some searching for those foods, are you absolutely sure they contain NO chicken even in a base?

Dr. Goldman
thank you so much for responding.
my cat has been diagnosed with EOSINOPHILIC PLAQUE (not sure if spelling is correct there)
so his allergies present themselves as scabs on his skin, he rubs these itchy spots until they open into a raw sore and become infected.
Previous to this allergy he had been fed a good diet of INNOVA EVO brand with no grains, but Chicken as the protien source.
He only responded to steroid shots for a few months to a few weeks, he had a series of 3 shots last year and Vet (and I after alot of reading) do not want to over expose him to steroids.
His skin became such a mess.
My Vet recommended him to be fed a diet with No Chicken or anything that had feathers(eliminated many foods)...he was than given a diet through my Vet of  Hypoallergenic HP of Medi-Cal brand...wouldn't eat...
than was tried on a vension diet of Sensitivity VR again wouldn't eat!! even with introducing with a 50/50 mix with his old food.
he was absolutely starving himself.
It became as a last resort that I buy a store bought brand of a FISH diet....this he loves....
He was also started on a 2 week course of CLAVAMOX...
and 'cold water fish oil' also recommended on some reading I did.
He is responding very well to these two measures, the scabs and sores have finally healed, but I am afraid they will return in time., than it would become necessary to try ATOPICA..as a last resort..and I sure am trying to avoid that.
Therefore I am trying to find a better food that HE WOULD EAT...so possibly a GOOD FOOD with LAMB..???
Do you suggest that?
I have also read abt the use of antihistamines for Cats...like zyrted or benadryl.
Do you recommend that before ATOPICA???
I do thank you so much for the input.

874521 tn?1424116797
by opus88, Nov 21, 2009
Dr Goldman...
so sorry I read your last post after posting mine.
I should not have gone into my cats allergy problems on your blog, I apologize for this.

931217 tn?1283481335
by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Nov 21, 2009
Its no problem.
I'll let these comments sit here awhile and then maybe in a week, clear them
for easier access to any that may follow.
By the way, great photos of your cats and family!

746512 tn?1388807580
by Tammy2009, Nov 21, 2009
I just have a couple more comments .... As a vet, then do you believe that you have enough training about nutrition when compared to someone with a nutrition degree?  Most of the vets I talk about don't know anything about any other brands of food bases Hills and Medi-cal.  I also find it ironic that all the vet schools are sponsored by hills and their nutrition "training" is done by them.  I have worked with two vets that couldn't even tell me (or know where to look to find out) about what meat was in the "meat by-product meal" in a Medi-cal food.  They said they assumed it was chicken and couldn't answer me why then there was both chicken by products and meat by product meal on the label.  My one cat gets very sick from beef and I didn't want to use the food unless I knew for sure.  

In UCVM (university of calgary vet med), nutrition is 0.75 credits, 3 hours a week for one semester.  That is the only course you learn about nutrition in.  Maybe vets shouldn't be the ones looking at what the best pet food is, maybe there should be animal nutritionists that are employed through vet clinics and are consulted when an owner needs advice on food.  

I would have also liked to see controls in the study.  How common are those bacteria found in an average home or in the soil?  If the same species are found at similar levels in the world around us, then why would those levels found in food bother the animals or us?  Ecoli is a very common bacteria found and is important in our own gut flora, the study doesn't specific which species of ecoli it found, how do we know then the ones they found are pathogenic?

I'm sorry for those couple of comments I made ... Reading back over them they were stupid.  

931217 tn?1283481335
by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Nov 21, 2009
Not stupid. I expect people to challenge me. After all, nutrition is a subject that ordinary people can control, try to understand and still, few quite get their arms around it.  It is OK to engage me in a dialog about this subject which is what I hoped to create by posting this letter, indeed by writing it in the first place. I do not claim to be a nutritionist, although as you said there is much misinformation out there and the internet allows anyone to spread it far and wide.

I am a practitioner who rarely uncovers true nutritional disease, whatever the diet, other than obesity, though I do look. If I could give one nutritional  piece of advice to all, it would be to feed less and feed a less calorie dense diet. Few animals, regardless of diet: cheap, expensive, natural, unnatural [ ;-) ] end up with demonstrated nutritional deficiency or excess (other than calories) in the United States. Whereas, obesity is epidemic.

You are right in saying most of us are under-educated in basic nutrition. I do not claim to know it all, only that raw, meat based diets are hazardous to the health of people and pets, sometimes. One can never know when that time is, hence my allusion to Russian roulette.That is the subject of my post and I think it best I not try to argue a wider point as I cannot prove to you I know better about nutrition generally, only that I have had some education in the area and have pursued additional education since graduation. There are true veterinary nutritionists - board certified specialists in pet nutrition. Two well known ones are Rebecca Remillard and Kathleen Michel. Dr. Remillard has a web site you can search and find.

On the subject of my post, raw meat-based diets, I want to answer your question and make the public aware that all E. coli are not created equal. Some are benign, even beneficial and some are highly pathogenic. E. Coli 0157 is one such highly pathogenic variety. There are others, as well as a variety of Salmonella and Camplyobacter species and others that can cause serious, at times life threatening disease. These sometimes contaminate meat during the slaughter or meat cutting processes. Not every time. Not often, but sometimes.

If you always cook, then you always have the best chance of breaking the error chain in meat preparation (an aviation metaphor) and still not get sick, despite the prior contamination. You see? The meat can't be ensured clean.
But you can avoid handling and feeding or eating it raw.

At home when I make hamburgers from ground beef I wash my hands thoroughly after and use a clean dish to remove the cooked burgers. The dish on which they were made is washed. No utensils that touched the raw meat may touch the cooked meat or the plate or cover. That way cross contamination will not occur. I do not know which batch is, if any ever were, contaminated. I treat all as if they may be.

In the case of pets, the risk to them is the same and the risk to people while regularly feeding it raw is also present.
It may seem more "natural" to  feed this way but I challenge the wisdom of it.

Wild animals that kill and eat other animals eat meat that has been fresh recently., in most cases. ( I know hyenas and others eat older meat. Maybe they are indeed resistant, or have better noses to tell just how spoiled and dangerous something may be.)  Not stored, frozen, unfrozen, refrigerated after, etc. In our meats, if contaminated the bacteria have time to proliferate or make toxins that can be localized in a batch. When such a "hot spot" wi; get to a pet or person under the right (worst) circumstances and cause harm cant be known. What is known is that 164º F will kill all bacteria and inactivate all common toxins.

Thanks for continuing the dialog. have a nice weekend and Thanksgiving. By the way, let's not feed our pets turkey drippings! No need for an epidemic of pancreatitis the Friday after!

541150 tn?1306033843
by PrettyKitty1, Nov 23, 2009
I feed my cats raw foods. My IBD cat needs it. Cats have a very fast gut transit, and bacteria usually do not stay in the body. A lot of Commerical foods are known to harm kitties as well, so I'd say there is no general comment which can be applied to ALL pets out there. My cats could not be healthier on raw foods. Knowing where the food comes from is very important. Also, taking your pets to the vet for regular, routine check-ups helps determine where your pet's health is at.

There are forums out there full of people feeding raw foods to their pets for years and years. Bottom line, IBD or IBS (to me same thing but I'm not a vet) as well as other illnesses caused by commercial foods (constipation, diabetes, and others which lead to cancer, like IBD) can be managed with raw foods.  I, and other members on the cat forum have tried treatment and prescription foods with absolutely no results. Some have to unfortunately put their cats to sleep before trying raw foods, which I'd say is a shame. I'd say for me, for my cat's sake....I'll keep the raw foods 'til the end. I firmly believe in it now that I've witnessed what it has done for my Abby.

A great pet nutritionist recommends a website which I enjoy reading. If it's ok I can post it as it is really interesting.

The post, nonetheless, is very good.

931217 tn?1283481335
by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Nov 23, 2009
Respectfully, and as a licensed veterinarian, I offer the following:

IBD is a family of diseases distinguishable by histologic (biopsy-based) criteria. Infiltration of normal bowel tissue with inflammatory cells of various kinds and due to as yet ill defined immunologic pathology is the basis for the symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and excessive gas. These factors can also be thought of as  malabsorption and maldigestion which is what the gut as a whole is doing (or not doing!).

Gut transit time may be faster or slower with IBD, however to say that pathologic bacteria move through so fast they cannot cause disease is false. Also cats do not have a markedly faster transit time than other common carnivores.
If anything they often have just one bowel movement daily, to two for dogs. One could argue that their transit time is therefore slower.

Whether some believe "commercial" diets are inferior or cause disease takes none of the potential risk from contaminated raw diets for you, your family or your cat. As a pet owner, it is your choice to feed as you wish, however, many forms of Salmonella and certain E coli (E coli 0157, for example) will make ALL mammals sick under some circumstances. Belief that somehow the raw food is free of "toxins" or poor quality "fillers" and the like has no basis in science and doesnt negate the contamination issue. Unfortunately ALL uncooked meat poses similar risk of bacterial contamination. The slaughter and cutting process is not perfect and cross contamination with feces occurs regularly. Children died this year in the US from such contamination. The following press reports are typical and make the risks clear:


Every batch of raw meat has the risk of bacterial contamination at the slaughterhouse or meat cutting plant. Cooking is the final step that can stop a potential foodborne illness. Not cooking at all maximizes the risk.

Taking your pet to me or to any of my colleagues to assess overall health is important, but doing so will not detect a foodborne illness that has yet to occur from today's batch of uncooked food. Forums of people doing what they want and believe in is fine for them, but that doesn't change one iota the risk of bacterial contamination of uncooked meat in a raw diet.  Boards full of self proclaimed experts do not make the truth a lie.

IBS is a human medical terminology for the family of diseases in animals that we call IBD. It is false to say or imply that "commercial diets" cause "constipation, diabetes, and others (illnesses) which lead to cancer, like IBD."  Raw foods play no role in treating any of these illnesses. Constipation is a sign, not a diagnosis. Diabetes is an absolute or relative absence of insulin treated with low carbohydrate diets or with insulin supplementation or both. Raw or cooked nature of diet plays no role in its treatment. Cancer is a family of diseases each of which is caused by a genetically based mistake in cellular division. There is no one disease called cancer and there is no definitive proof that any cancer has as its main cause a dietary factor. IBD is also a family of diseases defined by the cellular nature of the bowel infiltrate. Diet may play a role in therapy. There is no published, peer reviewed literature supporting raw diets as a superior in these cases.

In summary, while an individual may believe feeding a raw diet is good for their pet and have done it for decades without incident, let no one delude themselves into thinking it is safe 100% of the time. For some people and for some pets, one day it catches up with you. There is no need to develop elaborate reasoning for why one does it or why it might be beneficial. Slaughterhouse contamination makes feeding raw diet a high stakes Russian roulette for the eater and for those who prepare such food for consumption. Let's not confuse personal human preference with science. Science says, cooking all meats to an internal temperature of 164º F kills pathogenic bacteria and inactivates bacterial toxins formed by bacteria present for some time. Bon appetit!

541150 tn?1306033843
by PrettyKitty1, Nov 24, 2009
Well, I guess not all vets (and nutrition books?) concur with this. This is not what my vet has told me (I go to two vets for advice) I am not treating my pet with raw foods. Raw food is literally what he should be eating to avoid all of those allergy symptoms.  Facts are facts......I will never believe commercial foods are good for pets.There was a massive pet food recall due to melamine contamination in 2007. Hundreds of food brands were recalled and thousands of cats and dogs died in the USA; many more compromised for life.Bottom line, there is good and bad in everything.

This is what I know:
Cats have highly acidic digestive system. All this acidity makes them pathogen resistant. Food passes through their system in about 13 hours, compared to two to three times that long for humans. Even if a cat ingests salmonella bacteria, it has a good chance of not being affected by it. I keep in mind that this applies to a healthy cat, and resistance can be diminished in an ill cat. I would worry more about people in the household, not the cats.

This is what I believe:
Cats are carnivores. They need to eat other animals. That's what they eat in nature. Kibbles or other forms of processed foods are not species appropriate and are proven to cause constipation and other illnesses. About my IBD cat. I tried many, many brands, including high quality ones, and nothing worked.This is known to happen to almost ALL IBD cats out there. My cat's IBD is what you would call chronic colitis.  I was told IBD leads to cancer even on the expert forum, by my two vets, and by a nutritionist. I guess IBD creates the conditions for cancer to happen, thus leading to cancer.
The benefits of feeding raw foods are endless: Improved digestion, greatly reduced stool odor and volume, healthier coat, less shedding, fewer hairballs, inclreased energy, better dental health, better urinary health. I believe a cat eating another animal is the GOLD STANDARD, for any obligate carnivore. Yes, feeding raw foods is not risk free, but neither is a diet of processed commercial pet food, dry or canned. Just think about recent recalls.......

I would cite many, many references, books from experts on the matter. But I suppose it would only create an argument, and your post was meant to be informative and to create awareness.

My cat has been through two full body exams, including blood and stool, biopsy etc...I have been feeding him the same raw foods for a long time now, and every time he gets tested for Salmonella, Toxo, etc...the vets are always pleased to give me the good news. Inflammatory Bowel Disease with its attendant symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting is the body's rebellion against trying to process foods it was never built to eat.
And speaking of diabetes and other illnesses caused by poor nutrition (I'm sorry to disagree with you, Dr, but I firmly believe if the cat stays away from species inappropriate foods, the risks of becoming diabetic are very minimal)
Feline diabetes, as has been inteligently and credibly documented by one of the leading veterinarians in the country on that disease, Dr Elizabeth Hodgkins, is man-made. It's completely avoidable by staying away from carbohydrate. If we are consistently feeding processed meat flavored cereal to carnivores, it's no surprise that their endocrine systems go haywire.

And well, as just another member of this forum, my only opinion on the original post is that there is good and bad in everything. I do not think raw foods can be harmful if the right steps to prevent the bad from happening are taken (Bad being bacteria which can potentially affect a human's health) And, I am grateful to have had all the support from the vets who pointed me in the right direction towards improving my cat's health with raw foods.



541150 tn?1306033843
by PrettyKitty1, Nov 24, 2009
'Raw foods play no role in treating any of these illnesses. Constipation is a sign, not a diagnosis. Diabetes is an absolute or relative absence of insulin treated with low carbohydrate diets or with insulin supplementation or both. Raw or cooked nature of diet plays no role in its treatment.'

You are right, doc, raw foods are not meant to TREAT these diseases. Raw foods PREVENT them from happening.

And well, these are some of my sources. Maybe you have heard of them:

Specie-Inappropriate: The Dangers of Dry Food, by Margaret Gates

Carnivore Digestion and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, by Michelle Bernard

Feline Cystitis and Bladder/Kidney Stones, by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM

Case Examples of Tight Regulation of Diabetes, by Elizabeth Dodgkins, DVM, JD

A Proper Diet for a Diabetic Cat, by Elizabeth Hodgkins

They all point to the same topic, the advantages of feeding raw foods. I humbly encourage you to read the above if you haven't yet done so. The stories, facts and overall information contained are amazing.

931217 tn?1283481335
by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Nov 24, 2009
Not to attempt to take the last word from you PrettyKitty1 and others who have expressed disagreement on my points, (though this is my blog), I say this:

The "tight regulation of diabetes" theory as commonly applied in humans, is highly, highly controversial in veterinary medicine, and considered by most mainstream veterinarians to be inappropriate in pets. Diabetic goals in pets are different than in people, who live much longer lives (75 years verses 12 to 16 years) and thus suffer from diabetic micro-vascular disease whereas pets are less affected by this. Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, while a veterinarian, is not in the mainstream on this subject. It is not practical for the vast majority of pet owners to give tiny doses of insulin frequently throughout the day, 7/365. Twice daily insulin administration and "loose" regulation has been shown repeatedly as the practical way to manage diabetes when low carbohydrate diet alone cannot do so. Due to late diagnosis in many pets, dietary management is uncommonly successful alone in dogs, thought somewhat moreso in cats if complete Islet cell failure has not ensued. The Endocrinology textbook by Feldman & Nelson is the touchstone for endocrinology therapy and has been through multiple editions, for 35 years.

All the other references you cite in support, except that by Lisa Pierson DVM, are not written by veterinarians.
I have not heard of Dr. Lisa Pierson.

In any case, my point is one of public health, not one of animal nutrition. I will close with the following, and some may take it as an extreme view: The risk of foodborne illness to animals and the people who feed them, from foods containing uncooked meat, far outweighs any nutritional benefit to the animal.

In sum, if your pet is healthier but your grandmother or sister's infant get sick from cross contaminated surfaces in your house and ends up in the hospital, or worse, is it worth being right about the alleged superior benefit of raw meat-based diets and pet nutrition? Caveat Emptor!

Avatar universal
by rogersmithiii, Aug 31, 2010
I make my own cat food following Dr. Pierson's recipe.  I parboil all meats to kill any surface bacteria (where most of the contamination exists), thus giving me some protection against bacterial contamination, while keeping the food in a raw state.

On dry food, three of my six cats had significant urinary issues - cystitis, blockages, etc.  After switching to the semi-raw, homemade diet, there have been none.  The cats maintain a healthy weight, have lots more energy, have luxurious coats, and generally seem happier.  

Avatar universal
by rogersmithiii, Aug 31, 2010
Dr. Goldman.  Just wondering:  Do you sell Hills, and those other veterinarian-type cat foods in your practice?  

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by Carnivore, May 07, 2011
"The "tight regulation of diabetes" theory as commonly applied in humans, is highly, highly controversial in veterinary medicine, and considered by most mainstream veterinarians to be inappropriate in pets."

Tell that to all the cat owners getting their Diabetic cats into REMISSION under Dr. Hodgkins' protocol.  Likewise Dr. Pierson's.

I find it funny how all the facts are ignored by these same mainstream Veterinarians, facts such as:
Naturally low thirst drive
Cats mouths lacking the enzymes to break down the "stuff" which these veterinarians are "prescribing" they eat.
Teeth designed like scissors -- incapable of grinding.
Jaws don't rotate.

I'd do some research into the species *itself*, Dr., before discounting anything Dr. Pierson has to say. Unlike those mainstream Vets., her experience and credentials are not funded by, nor ba$ed on, any bia$ed source.
Just the facts, which you can find by merely looking up "Feline" in an encyclopedia.

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by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, May 07, 2011
Dr. Lisa Pierson is not board certified in nutrition nor in internal medicine. Therefore her opinion, and that is all that is espoused on her web site, her opinions, has equal weight to mine, not superior weight. She is a general practice veterinarian. Rebecca Remillard is actually a specialist. See her website to see the difference: http://www.petdiets.com/popup/popup.asp?url=author.asp?aID=1&sT=PetDIETS.com%20Authors

Most specialists and public health officials recognize the dangers of stored, raw meats to humans from repeated handling, rewrapping and exposure to room temperatures. The point of the original blog is to ensure people know they are taking risks with their domestic animals, and themeselves, when regularly dealing with raw meat based diets.

That said, in 25 years of practice, animals have not often gotten sick from prove-able nutritional causes. Maybe others believe differently, but that is my opinion. For pet owners, diet control is often a very personal choice based on their beliefs and quite simply because it is all they can control. Unless they want to go to veterinary school and become a general practice veterinarian. Then their opinion is as good as any other general practice veterinarian. Not everyone can be Dr. Remillard, even when they pretend to.

To reiterate: The risk of foodborne illness to animals and the people who feed them, from foods containing uncooked meat, far outweighs any purported nutritional benefit to the animal, if such benefit exists at all. I stand by this statement.

As far as advising me  to "do some research on the species itself before discounting" a self-promoting general practitioner, I will not dignify your insult with a direct reply. I am licensed in 8 states, accredited by USDA and was veterinarian of the year in Connecticut in 2005. I don't use encyclopedias, just textbooks and scholarly journals.
Good day to you "Carnivore."

Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MS

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by nottellinnebody, Dec 23, 2012
Wonderfully written and just make SO much sense, but therein lies the problem. Common sense isn't as common as one might think. The idea is that because canids have the short digestive tract of a carnivore, and because this diet supposedly makes them so incredibly healthy because it's "natural", and it's also proclaimed that our dogs have such acidic stomach acids, all this leads some people to believe that our dogs are somewhat magically impervious to food borne pathogens and parasites when these infectious agents are some of the most successful lifeforms on the planet. I wonder how they've become so successful if they hadn't been able to co-evolve to different digestive systems, whether it's scientifically accurate or not to claim that dogs have supernaturally acidic stomach acids and the benefits of raw makes dogs untouchable.

People also believe that freezing kills EVERYTHING that might be potentially infectious. The irony is that most people feed raw for it's freshness and lack of any nutrition loss due to cooking but they don't seem to mind the nutrition loss due to meat aging in the freezer.

The government can't protect these people from themselves, so if they want to make themselves and their own unfortunate pets ill, then there doesn't seem to be anything stopping them. But that's not the extent of the contamination. When these dogs leave their property and shed pathogens by stool and other means in public places, like pet stores, public parks, etc., another animal can come along, get too close, and thus become infected. This also goes for the human animal, of course.

Even if the animal stays home and the human preparer goes out, what's to stop the spread of contamination? Most people don't wash their hands after using the toilet. So why should we reasonably expect every day pet owners to handle food safely? Some people even use their raw meat for training purposes.

Then you've got service and therapy dogs being raw fed. These dogs, obviously, go into hospitals, retirement homes, and service dogs go into restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

It's madness.

Avatar universal
by nottellinnebody, Dec 23, 2012
And even if this shouldn't be posted and should most likely be deleted by you, I commend you on keeping your professional demeanor in the face of the insults and fanatical, unscientifically based claims posed to you in retaliation for your article.

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