Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Feeding raw meat to pets could be risky, say scientists

Feeding raw meat to pets could be risky, say scientists

Raw meat-based pet-food diets (sometimes referred to as RMBDs) have become increasingly popular around the world, the study authors wrote in their paper. A survey of frozen, raw meat products sold at pet stores and supermarkets in the Netherlands, where more than half of dog owners buy such items, revealed worrying levels of bacteria and parasites, a Dutch team reported in the journal Vet Record. Of 35 commercial raw-meat foods from eight brands that were analysed for the study, eight (23%) had traces of an E.coli type unsafe to humans, while nearly half tested positive for Listeria and one in five for Salmonella.

It also endangers livestock farming through the shedding of ingested bacteria and parasites into the natural environment, and could spread any antibiotic-resistant germs present in the raw food.

Eight products contained Sarcocystes parasites and two products (6 percent) contained Toxoplasma gondii parasites. 'Which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health'.

Things are probably better if you only purchase meat intended for human consumption, as the hygiene requirements for producing that are usually stricter than for the giblets, entrails, and other byproducts deemed suitable for raw pet food. "But I can imagine that cross-contamination in the kitchen during preparation of the food, and cleaning of the food bowls-as well as direct contact with infected animals-are the highest risks", he says.

The team said the bugs risked the health of the animals themselves, as well as their owners.

Additionally, depending on your country's laws, the preservatives used to keep meat fresh may not even be labelled properly, and can end up being toxic for both dogs and cats.

Previous year a charitable scheme which sends dogs into schools to help children read, Burns By Your Side, announced it had banned the use of animals fed on raw meats because of the health risk to children.

Fifteen products contained species from the nasty Listeria genus, eight products had Escherichia coli, and seven products contained at least one Salmonella species.

Of course, there are reasons people look to raw pet food in the first place - they're concerned about what's in the processed food options available for cats and dogs, and what these ingredients could do.

"Feeding of freshly prepared, non-frozen raw meat based-diets to companion animals cannot only result in infection and disease in the animals, but also poses a risk to public health and livestock farming through shedding of pathogens into the environment", the researchers conclude. "I think that in the USA especially, owners are much more liking the convenience, and buy these products instead of preparing raw food on their own".

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