EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated on Sept. 18, 2012, to include comments from the American Animal Hospital Association.
The American Animal Hospital Association has joined the American Veterinary Medical Association in taking a stand against raw food diets for pets.
AAHA published a position statement on its website that reported the association “does not advocate or endorse feeding pets any raw or dehydrated nonsterilized foods, including treats that are of animal origin.”
The association based its decision on “overwhelming scientific evidence” and cited 50 sources to support its decision. This includes raw commercial diets, said AAHA executive director Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, Dipl. ABVP.
“We’re not aware of accepted processes that a commercial diet could go through that could ensure there aren’t going to be pathogens present,” said Dr. Cavanaugh. “If that were to change – if the government came out and said this is an accepted process, this is the procedure – then it would certainly be time to change our statement.”
Up to 30 percent of dogs fed homemade or raw food diets may shed pathogenic organisms in their stool, according to the AAHA statement.
The AVMA issued its statement in August, just prior to AAHA stating its statement. However, AAHA’s board of directors approved its raw food position several months ago, Cavanaugh said, and the timing was coincidental. The reason AAHA delayed releasing its statement was because it was waiting endorsements from the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, both of which ultimately supported AAHA’s statement.
In its statement, the AVMA recommended feeding “fresh, clean, nutritionally balanced and complete commercially prepared or home-cooked food to cats and dogs” but did not use the word “raw” when describing the commercially prepared food.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc., which does not offer any raw diets, is among AAHA’s sponsors, but the association’s affiliation with Hill’s played no role in its decision to come out against raw food diets, Cavanaugh said.
“Just because we put out a position statement doesn’t mean that everyone will agree with it, but we express our opinion based on scientific information,” Cavanaugh said. “They don’t have to agree with us; they have a right to their opinion.”