Giving your pets a raw meat diet isn't a good idea

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

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.

Raw meat, touted by some as an easily-digestible, nutrient-filled superfood for domestic dogs and cats, may put not only your pet at risk, but your own health too, researchers warned Friday.

Pet owners who choose to feed their animals with a raw meat-based diet (RMDB) may think that they're offering their pooches or felines a healthier choice.

The study by Utrecht University, published in the journal, analysed 35 commercial frozen foods from eight different brands, widely available in The Netherlands. Toxoplasma gondii, the bacteria responsible for toxoplasmosis, was found in 6% of the diets.

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.

Four products (11%) contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and four contained Sarcocystis tenella.

Salmonella was found in 20% of the products while species of sarcocystis were found in 23%. 'Which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health'.

So, even if the daily opening of weird-smelling canned food seems like doing your fuzzy friend a disservice, if it's well produced and nutritionally balanced, it may just be the best thing for the animals and yourself. The former is known to be unsafe to farm animals, while the latter has been linked to illnesses in cats and humans (including mental illness in cat owners) in the United States. The foods contained raw meat, bones, and animal by-products from beef, duck, chicken, lamb, and horse, along with additional ingredients.

"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.

In general, the microbial evidence that the researchers gathered from their samples fell within acceptable limits for commercially produced pet products in the Netherlands.

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. "I think that in the US especially, owners are much more liking the convenience, and buy these products instead of preparing raw food on their own". Pet owners should also be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of raw meat products.

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