Our hospital will occasionally have clients who are interested in feeding a raw food diet. Claims have been made that cooking destroys natural enzymes and vitamins, and that raw diets improve longevity and oral health. The problem is that there is no evidence to back up any of these claims other than personal testimonials.
There are also significant risks associated with raw diets, particularly the risk of exposing both pets and people to pathogenic bacteria including salmonella and listeria.
Another concern is an improper balance of vitamins and minerals. This is especially true for growing puppies and kittens, where an improper balance of calcium and phosphorus can lead to significant skeletal abnormalities, but problems can also occur in adult pets. There have been studies looking at the oral health of wild dogs , and they were found to have similar or increased incidences of periodontal disease to domestic dogs.
If you are interested in feeding a home-cooked diet it is very important to use one that has been formulated by a veterinary nutritionist to be certain that the nutritional requirements are met for your pet’s age and any health conditions. There are a number of nutritionists, including those at NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine who offer on-line consultation for custom balanced home cooked diets.