WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- The American Veterinary Medical Association passed a resolution Friday discouraging the feeding of raw meat to cats and dogs. Pet owners and vets have varying opinions on the matter, but the AVMA's reasoning behind the resolution lies with the health concerns for humans.
Pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria can easily be transmitted from raw food to humans through the handling of the food, or through contact with the animal's feces.
Dr. Ashley Hughes of Friendship Hospital for Animals in Tenleytown says that feeding raw food in a house with children, elderly people or people who have weak immune systems is especially dangerous.
She hopes that the AVMA's resolution will help increase awareness of the dangers of raw food, because pet-owners are often getting a different message online.
Dr. Hughes says, "The Internet tells them raw food is the best thing to feed, and if they love their dog, this is what they should be feeding them, and so I hope people research it more and, you know, make an informed decision if that's what they want to feed."
Dr. Hughes warns that the bacteria that can be transmitted from raw food is very difficult to eradicate. Studies show that even with proper washing of bowls and utensils, the bacteria can persist and be transmitted to people.
Even though this isn't a ban, some pet owners still are wary of the AVMA's decision, fearing that the push against raw diets may be influenced by commercial pet food manufacturers.
Justin A. Frank, M.D. from the D.C. area, feeds his dogs raw ground beef, chicken and pork. "I say that somebody's payin' 'em off. I don't buy it. I think it's fine. They're good, they're healthy...they like it. I mean, a lot of people think it's not safe to eat sushi and it's not safe to eat steak tartare, and I don't agree with that."
Other pet owners simply avoid raw food altogether. Catherine Maltby from Silver Spring, Md. says, "I don't feed it to my dog because my vet recommends only dry kibble."
Dr. Hughes says that making an informed decision about the matter is key. "I think it's about discussing your feeding choices with your veterinarian and working out a system and a way of feeding that works for you and your pet."
Ultimately, the resolution is just a recommendation. The decision is up to pet owners to decide what they want to feed their furry friends.