Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Raw Meat Not the Safest Choice for Your Dog … or You

Raw Meat Not the Safest Choice for Your Dog … or You

While a lot of these products are frozen, this only kills of parasites, not bacteria.

Pet owners who are interested in raw meat-based diets should talk to a professional rather than feeding their pets uncooked meat.

He said new PFMA guidelines set out how to handle raw meat hygienically. When the meat is thawed and then given to pets, the bacteria's still there to pose all kinds of risks to both pets and humans.

Overgaauw noted that while the parasites are rendered harmless by freezing, bacteria are not, and that both posed a risk in home-prepared raw meat diets - not only to the pet but owners as well, either directly, as a result of cross-contamination of human food, or through exposure to pathogens shed by the animals.

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

It is reported that humans could encounter bacteria from raw foods in several ways, including direct with the food or with an infected pet; through with contaminated household surfaces; or by eating cross-contaminated human food.

Fifteen products contained species from the nasty Listeria genus, eight products had Escherichia coli, and seven products contained at least one Salmonella species. 'Which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health'. The foods contained raw meat, bones, and animal by-products from beef, duck, chicken, lamb, and horse, along with additional ingredients.

In 23% of the test packs there were traces of e-coli.

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.

As well, four products (11 per cent) also contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi, while another four was found to have Sarcocystis tenella.

Studies have also shown that cats and dogs who eat raw-meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than those on conventional diets of dry or canned food, the authors add.

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.

Things are probably better if you only purchase meat intended for human consumption, as the hygiene requirements for producing that are usually stricter than for the giblets, entrails, and other byproducts deemed suitable for raw pet food.

If you're concerned about how best to feed your cats or dogs, chat to a vet for their recommendations.

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