AVMA under fire from advocates of raw pet diets

Mollie loves her raw chow.

The divide between commercial pet food manufacturers and those who advocate for a raw food diet for their pets has grown deeper this week with the proposal issued by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Titled “Policy On Raw Or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein In Cat And Dog Diets,” the resolution reads in part:

The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans. Cooking or pasteurization through the application of heat until the protein reaches an internal temperature adequate to destroy pathogenic organisms has been the traditional method used to eliminate pathogens in animal-source protein, although the AVMA recognizes that newer technologies and other methods such as irradiation are constantly being developed and implemented.

Petsumer advocate Susan Thixton, TruthAboutPetFood.com, was the first to sound the alarm. What has followed is a unified response critical of AVMA on the part of pet parents who feed raw and veterinarians who support them.

It’s no secret that that large commercial pet food manufacturers such as Hill’s, Royal Canin, and Iams are in bed with veterinary institutions and that those foods can be found in most veterinary clinics.

Pet food manufacturers, in lieu of investing in quality ingredients, spend millions of dollars in advertising to convince pet parents that their foods and their foods alone are all that’s needed for a perfectly healthy pet.

The result is an attempt to put the lid on the growing awareness that there may be a better way to feed your pet. While AVMA is not recommending a ban on raw diets, its proposal, if passed, will give further fuel to professionals who are already critical.

It’s ironic that AVMA clamors about the hazards of pathogens in raw food when at least 49 people have been sickened by salmonella from handling dry dog food. There have been no reported cases of people or pets becoming sick from commercially available raw diets or properly formulated homemade raw diets.

Answer Pet Food in its letter to AVMA questions the lack of inclusion of the “Consortium of Raw Pet Food Manufacturers” in its proceedings, stating that it is “counterintuitive and in contrast to AVMA Bylaws, where it states

… the objective of the Association shall be to advance the science and art of veterinary medicine, including its relationship to public health, biological science, and agriculture.

…The mission of the Association is to improve animal and human health and advance the veterinary medical profession.

The collusion between AVMA, Purina, and the Delta Society is evident, as pointed out by Dr. Karen Becker.

She details that Purina’s marketing director, Brenda Bax, is on the board of the Delta Society, which banned the feeding of raw diets to its therapy animals. Purina also donated $400,000 to the Delta Society. The Delta Society asked if the AVMA if it had a policy specific to the feeding of raw diets. And that resulted in AVMA Resolution #5-2012. Dr. Becker is a strong advocate of a balanced raw diet.

Dr. Amy Nesselrodt, in a letter to AVMA, states, “Education of raw feeders, not regulation or policy statements that encourage more regulation is what is needed. Those that feed raw are fully aware the product is raw meat and handle it as they do other raw product in their kitchen.”

Dr. Peter Dobias describes the proposal as “fear-based marketing.” He list the ingredients found in “scientifically formulated” veterinary diets and concludes that “It didn’t take me long to realize that pet food companies’ claims that processed was better was a multi-billion dollar marketing plot.”

Those critical of raw diets point to the lack of scientific evidence. To be sure, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, alone just in the 800-plus comments that follow AVMA posting, “The Facts on AVMA’s Proposed Policy on Raw Pet Food Diets.”

As I was writing this, I was searching through Google Scholar for pertinent studies. But thanks to Dr. Jean Hofve: Her well-written article  includes research citations and discusses the role of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Toxoplasma – or more pertinently – the lack thereof in raw food and the hazards of Aflatoxin in dry food.

Apparently the pet food recalls of 2007 are a distant memory for AVMA and they, in their cozy relationship with the commercial pet food companies, are choosing to ignore more recent recalls, ones that affected humans as well as dogs and cats.

For those who switched their pets to a raw diet as a result of the recalls and for those who are veteran raw feeders, the battle has just begun.

A petition can be found at change.org: American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): Protect pet owners’ rights to feed a raw meat pet food.

I’ve included many nutritional resources here.

Here’s a recap of the links in this article:

VERY Bad News for Raw Feeders, Susan Thixton

The Domino Effect, Susan Thixton

Dry dog food salmonella outbreak sickened 48, CDC says

The Facts on AVMA’s Proposed Policy on Raw Pet Food Diets

Answers Official Response to AVMA, Answer Pet Food

An important letter to veterinarians from Dr. Amy Nesselrodt

AVMA vs Raw Food: Action Alert! Dr. Jean Hofve

URGENT: If You Feed Raw or Plan to in the Future, Please Read This, Dr. Karen Becker

Why Does the American Veterinarian Medical Association propose the vote against raw food? Dr. Peter Dobias

Petition: American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): Protect pet owners’ rights to feed a raw meat pet food


About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

8 Responses to AVMA under fire from advocates of raw pet diets

  1. Susan Zevola says:

    Thanks for such a succinct account on what is going on regarding the proposed AVMA policy.

  2. Cheysuli says:

    I noticed you don’t like to the Price-Pottenger institute. Pottenger did an experiment back in the 1930s on three groups of cats, showing that within three generations cats who were not fed some raw food products were unable to reproduce. I would love to hear the AVMAs reaction to that. While I am certain that some of the amino acids that are changed with cooking are now available synthetically and added to commercial foods, I find it hard to believe that all of them are available. Our bias, of course, is that our person has been an acupuncturist (human) for fifteen years and a human traditional foods advocate for nearly as long. Our veterinarian is a naturopathic vet (although trained in both allopathic and naturopathic modalities) and is no longer taking new clients because of her popularity.

    • That indeed was one of the first studies done on cats and raw feeding. But I would really like to see some real non-biased current studies that aren’t influenced by commercial interests. Cat care and ownership have changed so much since then.

  3. THANK you for this. 2 out of 3 kitties in our household support raw feeding. (The third is just being stubborn.) It’s made a huge difference in stomach sensitivity on Allie, too.

  4. Pingback: Monday Mentions: Cover Angst, Poison Mushrooms & Salty Language « Amy Shojai's Blog

  5. shovon says:

    Oh! nice article.This site is about food diet pet animal.I like this site very much.Thanks

  6. This paper was bound to trigger such responses. So much so that I was surprised to see it released without addressing the very obvious issues you mentioned. Thank you for this thorough post and the links – very educational!

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