CITATION: Morelli G, Bastianello S, Catellani P, Ricci R. Raw meat-based diets for dogs: survey of owners' motivations, attitudes and practices. BMC Vet Res. 2019;15(1):74. Published 2019 Mar 4.
Background The popularity of raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) for pets has been increasing in recent years even if the reputed health benefits are mainly anecdotal. A web-based survey was developed to better understand the motivations and habits of owners who decided to feed their dogs RMBDs.
Results The questionnaire was completed by 218 dog owners, 62 of whom were living with people whose immune system was impaired or weakened. Internet was the preferred source of information for more than half of the respondents, and feeding dogs a more natural and healthier diet was the main reason behind owners’ interest in RMBDs. About 80% of the participants completely abandoned commercial pet food and showed marked distrust especially towards the lack of clarity on the ingredients used (n = 169). The vast majority of owners interviewed (94%) believed RMBDs to be absolutely safe for dogs, and shinier coat, muscle mass gain, and cleaner teeth were the principal improvements seen on their pets. Controlling the composition and quality of the ingredients provided to their animals was the main advantage of RMBDs for 57% of the owners, while the main disadvantages were related to the purchase of some components (38%) and the time required (22%) for the preparation of the diet. Only 8% of the respondents relied on veterinarians for RMBD formulation, and a wide variety of feeding regimens and combinations of ingredients was observed.
Conclusions As revealed by this study, most owners are unaware of the risks posed by the feeding of RMBDs for both animal and human health, and they often rely on questionable sources for advice on pet nutrition. Owners see RMBDs as a more natural and healthier alternative to commercial pet food even if the actual benefits remain unproven. Consulting veterinarians for proper information and board-certified nutritionists for the formulation of complete and balanced RMBDs should be promoted.