SAN ANTONIO – The raw food diet is a growing and controversial trend in pet care.
It's not just about cutting up raw meat.
Sales of commercially prepared raw pet food have soared, more than tripling in the last seven years.
Proponents claim better health and more energy in their pets.
But Consumer Reports warns that raw food can be dangerous for the animal and its family.
Consumer Reports says an exclusive diet of raw meat may not contain everything your pet needs, whether it's from the meat aisle or a commercial formulation found in the pet section.
And there are safety concerns.
Public health agencies and many veterinarians say that raw food can contain bacteria like salmonella, E.coli and listeria.
"Even raw pet food that you buy commercially prepared in a pet store is still potentially dangerous because it can still contain harmful bacteria," said Consumer Reports health editor Julia Calderone.
If you do choose to feed your pet raw food, Calderone said to take the following important precautions:
- Use hot soapy water to clean everything the raw food has touched.
- Disinfect with a commercial product or a solution of one tablespoon bleach and 4 cups of water.
- Wash your hands vigorously for 20 seconds with warm water and soap after handling raw food, playing with your pet or cleaning up after it.
- Avoid kisses from your pet, which can also transmit bacteria.
Before making any big changes to your pet's diet, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet will be getting all the nutrition it needs and to discuss any safety issues.