2012 AVMA House of
by Richard P.
Streett, Jr., VMD, Delegate and Edward Jendrek, VMD, Alternate
In August we joined more than 9,000
attendees at the AVMA convention in San Diego for scientific
programs and business meetings. As members of the AVMA House of
Delegates (HOD) we met to debate a variety of topics including
good veterinary practice and responsible pharmacy; animal
welfare and objections to fighting; suggestions for safe and
effective animal restraint; and clarification of the definition
of the veterinary-patient relationship.
By far the most controversial issue
discussed was the organization’s policy on the feeding of raw
diets, which continues to be negative. Public commentary was
abundant on the blog forum hosted by the AVMA, totaling more
than 1,000 comments.
Delegates heard reports from the
reference committee and disclosed any potential conflicts of
interest during the discussion period prior to voting on the
proposed amendments. Members voted to change language from
“Never feed…” to “Avoid feeding ” of raw or undercooked diets.
Delegates did not feel comfortable adding a paragraph that was
deemed more permissive of owners’ feeding raw diets, so this
proposed amendment to Resolution 5 was rejected, as shown by the
Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source
Protein in Cat and Dog Diets
(Amendments proposed by reference
committee are in red.)
The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any
animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a
process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to
cats and dogs as well as humans. Cooking or pasteurization
through the application of heat until the protein reaches an
internal temperature adequate to destroy pathogenic organisms
has been the traditional method used to eliminate pathogens in
animal-source protein, although the AVMA recognizes that newer
technologies and other methods such as irradiation are
constantly being developed and implemented.
Animal-source proteins of concern include beef, pork, poultry,
fish, and other meat from domesticated or wild animals as well
as milk* and eggs. Several studies 1–6 reported in peer-reviewed
scientific journals have demonstrated that raw or undercooked
animal-source protein may be contaminated with a variety of
pathogenic organisms, including Salmonella spp, Campylobacter
spp, Clostridium spp, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes,
and enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus. Cats and dogs
may develop foodborne illness after being fed animal-source
protein contaminated with these organisms if adequate steps are
not taken to eliminate pathogens; secondary transmission of
these pathogens to humans (eg, pet owners) has also been
reported.1,4 Cats and dogs can develop subclinical infections
with these organisms but still pose a risk to livestock, other
nonhuman animals, and humans, especially children, older
persons, and immunocompromised individuals.
To mitigate public health risks associated with feeding
inadequately treated animal-source protein to cats and dogs, the
AVMA recommends the following:
Avoid feeding inadequately treated
animal-source protein to cats and dogs
Restrict cats’ and dogs’ access to carrion and animal carcasses
(eg, while hunting)
Provide fresh, clean, nutritionally balanced and complete
commercially prepared or home-cooked food to cats and dogs, and
dispose of uneaten food at least daily
Practice personal hygiene (eg, handwashing) before and after
feeding cats and dogs, providing treats, cleaning pet dishes,
and disposing of uneaten food
The AVMA recognizes that some
people prefer to feed raw or undercooked animal-source protein
to their pets. The AVMA recommends that veterinarians inform pet
owners of potential risks and educate them on how to best
mitigate the risk of pathogen exposure in both handling the food
and in managing pets consuming undercooked or raw animal-source
* The recommendation not to feed unpasteurized milk to animals
does not preclude the feeding of unpasteurized same-species milk
to unweaned juvenile animals.
Joffe DJ, Schlesinger DP.
Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection
in dogs fed raw chicken diets. Can Vet J 2002;43:441–442.
Finley R, Reid-Smith R, Weese
JS, et al. Human health implications of
Salmonella-contaminated natural pet treats and raw pet food.
Clin Infect Dis 2006;42:686–691.
Stiver SL, Frazier KS, Mauel MJ,
et al. Septicemic salmonellosis in two cats fed a raw-meat
diet. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2003;39:538–542.
LeJune JT, Hancock DD. Public
health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to
dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:1222–1225.
Freeman LM, Michel KE.
Evaluation of raw food diets for dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc
Weese SJ, Rousseau J, Arroyo L.
Bacteriological evaluation of commercial canine and feline
raw diets. Can Vet J 2005;46:513–516.
To read more about the HOD
activities and to see detailed summaries of the resolutions
please follow this link to the AVMA’s website:
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Links from this article
Summary of Resolution 5
More on HOD Activities