Pet lovers always want the best for their animals and raw meat has been said to be an easily-digestible, nutrient-filled superfood for domestic dogs and cats but a new study says it may be a risky choice.
A survey of frozen, raw meat products sold at pet stores and supermarkets in the Netherlands, where more than half of dog owners buy these products showed worrying levels of bacteria and parasites including E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, which can cause mild to severe infections, and the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis with brain and eye damage in rare human cases.
The authors of the study said “It is clear that commercial RMBDs (raw meat-based diets) may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogensand such pathogens could sicken animals, but pose an even bigger threat to humans who handle the raw food or come into close contact with infected animals licking their face or hands.”
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.
Of 35 commercial raw-meat foods from eight brands that were analysed for the study, eight (23 per cent) had traces of an E.coli type dangerous to humans, while almost half tested positive for Listeria and one in five for Salmonella. Two products were infected with T. gondii.
The authors of the study said that in contrast, regular dry, semi-moist and canned pet food is rarely contaminated with pathogens and that the benefits of raw food that have been touted in the past have not been backed with evidence.
BOTTOM LINE: Researchers say they are trying to increase awareness of the use of RMBDs so that pet owners are educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of them. They also called for warnings and handling instructions on product labels and packaging.
For the full study as published in the journal Vet Record click HERE.
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