Survey of owner motivations and veterinary input of owners feeding diets containing raw animal products

Stewart K Morgan, Susan Willis, Megan L Shepherd
PeerJ 2017, 5: e3031

BACKGROUND: The practice of feeding of diets containing raw animal products (RAP) to pets (dogs and cats) is discouraged by veterinary organizations and governmental public health organizations. Nevertheless, the practice of feeding RAP to pets is increasing in popularity. Pet owner motivations for feeding RAP diets to pets have not been explored and the benefits of RAP diets remain largely anecdotal. We hypothesized that pet owners feeding RAP diets would not rely on veterinary advice in choosing their pet's diet. We also hypothesized that these owners would have lower levels of trust in veterinary advice with respect to nutrition relative to pet owners not feeding RAP.

METHODS: An anonymous web-based survey was developed to identify pet owner motivations for feeding RAP diets, and to characterize the veterinarian-client relationships of individuals feeding RAP diets.

RESULTS: There were 2,337 respondents and 2,171 completed surveys. Of survey respondents, 804 reported feeding RAP at the time of the survey. While 20% of pet owners feeding RAP relied on online resources to determine what or how much RAP to feed, only 9% reported consulting with a veterinarian in making decisions about feeding RAP. Pet owners feeding RAP reported lower levels of trust in veterinary advice both 'in general' and 'with respect to nutrition' than pet owners not feeding RAP. Most pet owners reported that a discussion regarding their pet's nutrition does not occur at every veterinary appointment.

DISCUSSION: Pet owners feeding a RAP diet have lower trust in veterinary advice than pet owners not feeding a RAP diet. Owners feeding RAP are more reliant on online resources than their own veterinarian in deciding what and how much RAP to feed. Pet owners perceive that nutrition is not discussed at most veterinary appointments. Therefore, there is room for improvement in the veterinarian-client communication with regards to nutrition.

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