Don't feed your canine uncooked meat, research says

by Jared Lewis January 14, 2018, 1:14
Don't feed your canine uncooked meat, research says

The Utrecht University researchers led by Paul Overgaauw tested 35 raw meat products from eight different brands widely available in the Netherlands and found that 23% of the products contained E-coli, while 80% contained an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria.

Previous research has already shown the risks associated with feeding raw meat-based diets to cats and dogs, including a risk of developing hyperthyroidism in dogs, inadequate nutritional balance, and contamination with parasites and pathogens. In a new analysis of 35 commercial raw dog and cat foods, researchers found that 86% of products contained potentially unsafe bacteria.

The pathogens included bacteria such as 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.

But if you're feeding Mittens a raw meat diet because "it's so natural" and "just what her wild ancestors would have eaten", it looks like science may not be on your side.

The team points out that the relatively small sample size doesn't allow for a calculation of the precise risks involved if you buy your cat or dog raw meat-based products.

Traditional fare Henry prepares to tuck into canned dog food in the 1970s advertisement alongside Clement Freud
Traditional fare Henry prepares to tuck into canned dog food in the 1970s advertisement alongside Clement Freud Credit BBC

While your dog or cat might love the taste of raw meat, a steady diet of it might be a bad idea, a new study warns.

"To discover how authentic these threats are", Overgaauw along with his coworkers examined examples of 3-5 frozen pet food services and products from eight unique manufacturers, all of which are accessible pet stores and supermarkets at the Netherlands.

"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.

But researchers have pushed back, saying there is no evidence of such health benefits and that raw meat diets can cause dental and gut injuries as well as growth problems in pets - the latter a result of a deficiency in certain nutrients, a particular issue with home-prepared raw meat diets. Conventional pet food is also heated during processing, which kills all germs. That can have further implications for pet owners and for public health in general.

Some people feed raw meat, bones and organs to their pets instead of the more traditional dry or canned products, which are processed and often contain added salt, sugar and artificial colorings. They should be educated about proper handling of the products and personal hygiene measures, and the products should include warnings and handling instructions, the investigators said.

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