AAII Raw Diet Policy

During the 2018 AAII International Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota the members of AAII discussed and agreed that it is in the best interest for AIII to develop a raw diet policy. This requires that animals who participate in animal assisted interventions refrain from eating a raw food diet.

Due to the growing evidence against raw meat-based diets, it everyone’s responsibility to protect our clients and the dogs that work with us, from zoonotic disease transmission including Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Enterobacteriaceae, Clostridia and Botulism. Exposure can cause serious infection or death, and even have legal implications (Davies, 2015). Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, older adults and individuals who are immunosuppressed are at the highest risk of contracting zoonotic disease from pathogenic bacteria found in raw diets. It is important that members understand the risks involved with feeding animals a raw food diet.

The following is a list of foods that are considered raw:

  • Raw protein from any wild/domesticated animal that has not undergone a cooking process (e.g., dry or wet heat applied until protein reaches 165°F)
  • Commercial or homemade raw meat diets, whether frozen, freeze-dried, dehydrated, or kibble with raw coating
  • Freeze-dried treats
  • Raw eggs
  • Animal parts treats (e.g., bully sticks, pig ears, tendons, hooves, tracheas, lungs, bones, etc.) Note: Bacteria can survive some heat/thaw cycles as well as high pressure, so actual cooking is required. If you are unsure whether the food is raw or not, it is best to stay away. Cooking, irradiation or pasteurization are reliable methods for killing bacteria (Davies, 2015).

There is an increasing pool of evidence indicating raw diets being a risk for infectious diseases. In a recent study by Van Bree, et al. (2018), they discovered the presence of zoonotic bacteria and parasites such as E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria while studying 35 samples of raw meat-based diets. Schlesinger & Joffe (2011) conducted a critical review that cited 42 articles and provided further evidence that raw food diets pose an infectious disease risk to humans and animals. The studies in the critical review found that Salmonella was detected in raw food samples (Strohmeyer, et al., 2006), dogs shed Salmonellae after just one raw food diet meal (Finley, et al., 2007), multi-drug resistant strains of Salmonella were present (Finley, et al., 2008), and there was evidence that Salmonella shed by animals caused illness in humans (Wright, et al., 2005). Thus, human contact with animal saliva, feces, etc. poses a great health risk when the animal consumes a raw diet.

To protect the public against zoonotic disease transmission, AAII suggests that members feed commercially prepared or home-cooked food that is clean, fresh, and provides all essential nutrients and practice proper hygiene procedures after handling food, treats and animal dishes (American Veterinary Medical Association, 2012). Animal-source protein must be cooked to at least 165°F to eliminate pathogens before being fed to animals.

Currently, other organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pet Partners, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American College of Veterinary Nutritionists (ACVN) and American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have policies or declarations regarding raw diets for animals. AAII is proud to join these organizations in this policy.

References:
American Animal Hospital Association. (2011). Raw protein diet. Retrieved from https://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/raw_protein_diet.aspx American Veterinary Medical Association. (2012, August). Raw or undercooked animal-source protein in cat and dog diets.
Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Raw-or-Undercooked-Animal-Source-Protein-in-Cat-and-Dog-Diets.aspx?PF=1

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2012, August). Raw pet foods and the AVMA’s Policy: FAQ.
Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Raw-Pet-Foods-and-the-AVMA-Policy-FAQ.aspx?PF=1

Clinical Nutrition Team. (2016, January 16). Raw Diets: A Healthy Choice or a Raw Deal?
Retrieved from http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/01/raw-diets-a-healthy-choice-or-a-raw-deal/

Davies, M. (2015). Evidence-based nutrition: raw diets.
Retrieved from https://vettimes.co.uk/article/evidence-based-nutrition-raw-diets/

Finley, R., Reid-Smith, R., Ribble, C., Popa, M., Vandermeer, M., & Aramini, J. (2008). The occurrence and and antimicrobial susceptibility of salmonellae isolated from commercially available canine raw food diets in three Canadian cities. Zoonoses and Public Health, 55(8-10), 462-469.
Retrieved from http://sci-hub.se/10.1111/j.1863-2378.2008.01147.x

Finley, R., Ribble, C., Aramini, J., Vandermeer, M., Popa, M., Litman, M., & Reid-Smith, R. (2007). The risk of salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 48(1), 69-75.
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1716752/

Pet Partners. (2010, June 30). Pet Partners Position on Raw Meat Diets.
Retrieved from https://petpartners.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/PP_Raw-Diet-Info-Sheet.pdf

Schlesinger, D. P., & Joffe, D. J. (2011) Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 52(1), 50-54.
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3003575/

Strohmeyer, R. A., Morley, P. S., Hyatt, D. R., Dargatz, D. A., Scorza, A. V., & Lappin, M. R. (2006). Evaluation of bacterial and protozoal contamination of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 228(4), 537-542.
Retrieved from http://sci-hub.se/10.2460/javma.228.4.537

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2014, June 30). FDA’s advice: know the risks of feeding raw foods to your pets.
Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/ucm403350.htm

Van Bree, F. P. J., Bokken, G. C. A. M., Mineur, R., Franssen, F., Opsteegh, M., van der Giessen, J. W. B., Lipman, L. J. A., & Overgaauw, P. A. M. (2018). Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs. Veterinary Record, 182(2), 50–50. doi:10.1136/vr.104535

Wright, J. G., Tengelsen, L. A., Smith, K. E., Bender, J. B., Frank, R. K., Grendon, J. H., Rice, D. H., Thiessen, A. M., Gilbertson, C. J., Sivapalasingam, S., Barrett, T. J., Besser, T. E., Hancock, D. D., & Angulo, F. J. (2005). Multidrug-resistant salmonella typhimurium in four animal facilities. Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, 11(8), 1235-1241.