Ask the Vegan Vet: Should I be Feeding my Dog a Raw Diet?

Feeding dogs a raw meat diet is definitely a controversial matter in the veterinary and public health community.  The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), FDA (Federal Drug Administration) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) discourage feeding raw animal-source protein to dogs.  All diets have pros and cons.  Raw meat may be more easily digestible than other foods for dogs.  However, it contains significantly more potentially dangerous bacteria, may not be nutritionally balanced and is not well regulated. 

One major concern here is public health.  There is potential for infection, particularly in children and the elderly as well as immune-compromised individuals.  These people are more susceptible to infections from bacteria like salmonella that are common in raw meat.  Although most healthy dogs won’t get sick from eating salmonella, they can become carriers and shed the bacteria in their feces.  Though rare, there have been reports of dogs who became ill or even died from salmonella that was in their raw food.

Raw food diets are not always nutritionally complete and balanced.  This can be particularly problematic with calcium and phosphorous content for growing puppies. 

Commercially available raw food diets are not subject to the same regulations as other prepared dog foods.  Following recommended guidelines is voluntary for these raw food manufacturers.

For these reasons, the AVMA, FDA and CDC do not recommend feeding dogs raw meat.

One should also consider the source of meat. Were the cows injected with growth hormones?  Were the chickens fed antibiotics that led to more resistant bacteria?  Unfortunately, administering hormones and antibiotics are commonplace farming practices that can harm your dog. 

Some people think dogs need meat for the right proteins and amino acids.  There are 20 amino acids present in proteins, and 10 of those are essential for dogs.  This means they need to consume them in their diet because their bodies don’t make them.   A nutritionally balanced diet, such as V-Dog, supplies these essential amino acids.  There are a variety of healthy plant sources of amino acids, such as peas and soybeans.  The important factor, according to the NRC (National Research Council), is that dogs require specific nutrients, not specific feedstuffs.

Dogs are omnivorous eaters.  They adapted over thousands of years alongside humans to be able to absorb a wide variety of nutrients. 

Do dogs need raw meat (or any meat)?  No, they don’t.


Lorelei Wakefield, VMD

dr. wakefield vegan vet

This post has been written by veterinarian consultant Dr. Lorelei Wakefield. To ask us a veterinary question about your pup, please email us at 

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