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The Pros and Cons of Feeding a Raw Diet

By Dr. Pema Choepel Mallu

A raw diet is advised by many holistic veterinarians for both dogs and cats. Dogs and cats are carnivores and have teeth that are designed to tear meat and grind bones. They do not have grain-grinding teeth in their mouth. The majority of commercially prepared kibble is high in carbohydrates and grains. Many also have chemical dyes and preservatives. There are no grain kibbles available without unnatural additives. All the commercially prepared canned foods are either heat-processed or pasteurized or both. This processing kills the live nature of the food.

Raw diets include home-prepared raw diets, fresh-frozen raw diets and freeze-dried raw diets. It is important to balance the Ca:Phosporous ratio and for this, each raw diet must include a portion of raw bone. Home-prepared raw diets generally use whole meat carcass portions with bone that is chewed in whole, organ meats, vegetables and fruit. The fresh-frozen raw diet and freeze-dried raw diet have these same ingredients and the raw bone is finely ground.

Raw diets may contain pathogenic bacteria although freezing will kill them. It is important to wash the pet’s bowls, all utensils and counters when preparing raw food to avoid human contamination. Animals have a high acid stomach pH which destroys any of these bacteria. Meat pathogenic bacteria do not become a problem for the pet. Rinsing all meat and bones before serving is also a good habit.


Pros for feeding a raw diet:

  • Healthier pet with less trips to the vet. This is a natural diet for the carnivore and keeps the immune and digestive system healthy.
  • Perfect weight and increased energy. The raw diet is live food and has a high metabolic rate, thus keeping the thyroid balanced, fats digested and weight controlled.
  • Shiny hair coat and healthy skin. The raw meat, bone marrow and organ meats nourish the blood which in turn nourishes the skin and hair coat.
  • Clean teeth, healthy gums and fresh breath. Raw diet is low in carbohydrates and keeps the salivary pH balanced to prevent bacterial growth and tartar buildup. Gnawing on raw meat and bones also keeps teeth clean.
  • Good stools which are firm and smaller.
  • Foods are not processed and have no preservatives, chemicals or dyes.
  • Pets experience fewer allergies or digestive complaints. Carbohydrates are the main culprit of inflammation in the GI tract of dogs and cats causing propensity for allergies and digestive disturbances.
Cons for feeding a Raw Diet:
  • Possible bacterial contamination for human. Must clean bowls and prep materials with hot soupy water.
  • Choking or bowel obstruction. The raw bones must be appropriate to the size of the pet to avoid an episode of choking on a too large a piece of bone or a piece not chewed enough, thus causing bowel obstruction.
  • If fed too much raw bone, the stools can become ashen and dry or even impacted.
  • Unable to leave food out for hours. Most pets will eat raw food immediately so this is not a problem.
  • Some pets who have been fed commercial processed food for years have depleted their digestive enzymes and may need enzymes added to raw or may need home-cooked food instead of cold raw food.
  • More expensive. It can be more expensive to feed raw but on the other hand, your pet will be healthier and have less trips to the vet in their lifetime, saving money.
Pema Choepel Mallu, DVM, CVA, MAc, LAc is co-owner of Holistic Veterinary Healing in Germantown. She is also an ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun and as such lives life with the notion that all creatures are created equal. To contact her, email [email protected] or visit
June 2020




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