Raw feeding domestic dogs and cats has grown
in popularity in the last few years. While it is a
fast-growing sector of the pet food market, many veterinary professionals feel ill-informed about raw diets,
sometimes dismissing them as a ‘fad’ or even reprimanding
clients who admit to raw feeding.
Advocates of raw feeding suggest it’s the most natural
way to feed their beloved pet – one in which the food is
minimally processed and is close to what (they say) their
animal would choose to eat. Detractors cite concerns over
safety, like the possibility of bacterial pathogens being
present on raw meat, along with concerns that it may
increase exposure to parasites and that the diet may not be
nutritionally complete and balanced.
Even if you wouldn’t personally choose to feed your pet
a raw diet (just as you may choose not to feed a wet diet
or kibble diet), it is our duty as veterinary professionals
to be informed enough to discuss the topic openly and
knowledgeably with clients, explaining the potential benefits
and risks, along with how to pursue raw feeding in as safe
and responsible way as possible, if the client so desires.
Natures Menu regards a ‘responsible raw’ pet food
product to have the highest possible safety, quality and
ethical standards. We are a Defra-registered raw food
company, meaning we must abide by specific EU legislation
that covers raw pet food manufacture.
There are over 50 pieces of legislation that govern the
manufacture of pet foods, but some of the most pertinent
for raw feeding relate to EU Animal by-products regulations
1069/2009 and 142/2011.
These regulations highlight a few key points when it
comes to commercial raw pet food manufacture, which
distinguish ‘responsible raw’ feeding from homemade diets,
composed of ingredients from the supermarket or local
There is a restricted list of raw materials that Natures
Menu is permitted to use in pet foods. Things like feathers, pelts, hooves
and horns are
in raw food
would be too
animal by-products are allowed in pet food intended to be cooked.
EU legislation also dictates that all raw material used for
pet food by Defra-registered companies must be gland-free,
eliminating the potential for animals to develop endocrine
disorders such as hyperthyroidism, which has occasionally
been reported in dogs consuming raw thyroid tissue.
EU legislation also has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards
Salmonella in raw pet food products; Defra-registered raw
food manufacturers must send samples of their raw food
to verified, independent labs to be tested for Salmonella.
The results are sent to APHA. The agency also carries out
regular inspections of the manufacturing facilities of Defra-
registered raw pet food companies.
Interestingly, the zero tolerance policy for Salmonella in
commercial raw pet food is stricter than the legislation for
raw materials intended for human consumption, which does
allow Salmonella to be present in raw meat (providing it is
not Salmonella typhimurium or enteritidis), as the intention
is that this meat will ultimately be cooked, thus killing the
This is a clear difference between buying commercial raw
pet food from a Defra-registered manufacturer and buying
raw meat from the local butcher or supermarket to make a
EU legislation dictates that all raw materials used in raw
pet food manufacture must be traceable, so concerns that
may arise further down the line can be easily traced back to
In the next article, I will discuss other potential concerns
regarding raw diets, such as parasites, ensuring a raw
diet is complete and balanced, and how commercial and
homemade raw diets may differ in these respects.