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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                                   Fall 2012

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2012 AVMA House of Delegates Report
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 strike-throughs below.

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 protein diets
* The recommendation not to feed unpasteurized milk to animals does not preclude the feeding of unpasteurized same-species milk to unweaned juvenile animals.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. LeJune JT, Hancock DD. Public health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:1222–1225.

  5. Freeman LM, Michel KE. Evaluation of raw food diets for dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:705–709.

  6. 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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Summary of Resolution 5

More on HOD Activities


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