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Some Pet Owners Swear By Raw Diets For Their Animals

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's the latest trend in pet food: eating raw.

It may not look good to you and me, but little Petey can't wait to eat this bowl of raw meat.

"That's how they were supposed to eat," Angie De Mars, owner of Noah's Ark Pet Supplies, tells CBS 2's Roseanne Tellez. "It's the best diet for them."

DeMars says a growing number of people think raw is best when it comes to keeping their pets healthy. And sales for raw are hot.

"We've gone up about 33 percent in the last year," she says. "I think people are becoming more educated and want to spend more on their animals on the front end."

In other words, spend on a good diet, instead of at the veterinarian.

"The breath is better the coat is better, the skin is better and a lot of overweight dogs, they're overweight because they're eating dry with carbs," DeMars says.

Anne Blanchette says she learned the hard way. After her dogs got sick, she switched to raw.

"I brought two dogs who were very ill back to great health," she says.

The food contains meat, organs, bone, and in some cases vegetables and fruit, all ground together and sold frozen. Just thaw it out and serve it up.

But some say they don't plan to put any in their dog's bowl.

Veterinarian Lisa Freeman is concerned about the health risks in handling raw meat.

"We have quite a lot of evidence that there are some really important health risks for the pet," she says.

So, what about salmonella and e-coli?

"That's probably the biggest concerns of vets and from my customers," DeMars says.

She says just take the same precautions you would in handling any raw meat.

You may be surprised how many brands there are to choose from.  In some cases, pet owners are switching one bone at a time.

The CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association do not recommend feeding your pet raw food because of the risks. But supporters say you can cut the chances of contracting food-borne illnesses even more if you buy pasteurized. It's treated and then tested for safety.

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