Pet owners warned about placing animals on raw meat diets
Pet owners following the latest pet food trend of feeding animals raw meat only, instead of dry or canned pet food, have been warned about the practice by scientists.
In an article published in Volume 182, Issue 2 of Vet Record, scientists say some pet owners have been feeding their cats and dogs raw meat diets, believing they are healthier than processed dry or canned pet food options.
The scientists, based in The Netherlands, have however warned raw meat may be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, posing a risk to animal and human health.
The scientists said any belief that raw meat diets are healthier for animals is not backed by science.
To substantiate their claims that a raw meat diet may be unhealthy, the scientists analysed 35 frozen raw pet food products available in The Netherlands and found E Coli in 23 per cent of products, listeria in 43 per cent and salmonella in 20 per cent.
“Despite the relatively low sample size of frozen products in our study, it is clear that commercial raw meat based diets may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and if transmitted pose a risk for human beings,” the researchers said.
“Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health.”
The scientists said pet owners could come into contact with pathogens through touching infected raw meat, by eating cross-contaminated food or through contact of contaminated surfaces around their household.
The scientists suggested pet owners should be educated about the risks involved in feeding their pets raw meat diets and should ensure they engage in appropriate hygiene practices when handling raw meat used for pet food.
They also suggest warning and handling instructions should be placed on packaging of raw meat pet food products.
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