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Q&A: Do you recommend stool tests for dogs who are on a raw food diet?

You should consider a stool test because raw dog food (like under cooked meat or unwashed vegetables) can be contaminated with some pretty scary bacteria. The most concerning are Salmonella and Campylobacter. In dogs these bacteria can cause mild to severe digestive upset, most commonly loose or watery diarrhea, with or without vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, decreased energy level, and loss of appetite. These bacteria can be life-threatening in puppies or in adults with suppressed immune systems. Fortunately for dogs, most of them infected with Salmonella or Campylobacter will stay healthy. However, they can still shed them in the stool intermittently, serving as a source of contamination for other dogs and people. 

These bacteria are a serious health concern for people who can get illness symptoms similar to their dogs. Young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for more severe infections. Stool tests should be performed twice yearly on an adult dog. Unlike the basic stool test typically done by veterinarians, stool testing for raw fed pets should include screening for Salmonella and Campylobacter

Dennis Chmiel, DVM, MBA

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