Many of us, including myself, have seen the health and vigor of dogs and cats fed raw diets. These animals just 'shine' in all respects. To criticize all raw diets on the basis that they inherently carry harmful bacteria, parasites or other microbes is clinically unwarranted, in the face of evidence that the pet foods recalled for contamination with Salmonella spp. and E. coli (just 2 examples) have all been commercial kibbled products and not raw foods. The newer freeze dried, dehydrated whole foods are more easily stored and less likely to spoil.
That said, however, not all animals thrive on raw diets, and not all animals can tolerate them, especially if they have a history of bowel disorders. People making their own raw diets for pets must follow common sense hygienic procedures to avoid potential contamination of utensils and surfaces. Nutritionally, raw diets are the most wholesome, followed by fresh, home cooked, properly balanced diets, freeze-dried and dehydrated. Premium quality commercial kibbled and canned food diets are the next tier of the pet food chain, especially those that are grain- or gluten- free. For the average pet guardian, these commercial diets may be the most practical and affordable.
A more in-depth, clinical article on the raw food diets follows shortly.