You shouldn't feed your dog raw meat. This is why

Researchers find bacteria and pathogens in a variety of raw meat pet products

'Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, ' explain researchers.

Eight products contained Sarcocystes parasites and two products (6 percent) contained Toxoplasma gondii parasites.

This is important, researchers say, because the bacteria and parasitic pathogens found in the food may possibly be a source of infection in pets, which may also become a risk for humans.

Those risks don't just apply to the pets themselves, says Paul Overgaauw, a veterinarian and visiting researcher at Utrecht University.

By feeding this diet to pets, owners are not only risking the health of the animals but also their own health. In an email, the study authors said that raw-meat pet foods for sale in the United States are "without a doubt similar" to those tested in the study.

Experts are warning pet owners against feeding their cats and dogs on raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) because the food may carry deadly bugs - and they could be passed between animals and people.

Pets get sick eating marijuana
Pets get sick eating marijuana

Pet owners and other household members can come into contact with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in several ways, including direct contact with the food or with an infected pet, through contact with contaminated household surfaces, or by eating cross-contaminated human food.

"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.

Salmonella was found in 20% of the products while species of sarcocystis were found in 23%.

Commercial dry or canned pet foods are safer because the composition of the food is complete and optimally balanced in terms of nutrients, he said. "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".

Raw meat-based treats for pets is becoming increasingly popular in Europe but scientists in the Netherlands, where 51% of pet owners - an estimated one million people - have adopted the trend, are warning against the diet. Earlier analyses on raw pet food in the United States also found similar levels of contamination.

Writing in the journal Veterinary Record, the researchers describe how they analysed samples from 35 raw meat diet products across eight brands available in the Netherlands - a country where more than half of dog owners are thought to feed their dog, at least in part, with raw meat. "They think they are feeding dogs how they would eat in nature, like a wolf".

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