Medical

Raw Meat Not the Best Choice for Your Dog ... or You

Raw Meat Not the Best Choice for Your Dog ... or You

Raw meat-based treats for pets is becoming increasingly popular in Europe but scientists in the Netherlands, where 51% of pet owners - an estimated one million people - have adopted the trend, are warning against the diet.

Salmonella was found in 20% of the products while species of sarcocystis were found in 23%.

RMBDs can form all sorts of products crafted for pets: dried treats for cats and dogs, homemade and manufactured meals. Do you feed your pet raw meat, or do you think it's too risky?

The trend for feeding dogs and cats raw meat has been criticised by scientists, who say it often contains bacteria and parasites that could pose dangers to both pets and their owners.

Additionally, depending on your country's laws, the preservatives used to keep meat fresh may not even be labelled properly, and can end up being toxic for both dogs and cats. Humans may also be exposed to harmful pathogens when cleaning up an infected animal's waste or when an infected animal licks its owner's face or hands. Even more worrisome, E. coli 0157-a particularly risky strain now responsible for a lettuce-based outbreak in North America-was found in 23% of the samples.

Overgaauw said dry, semi-moist and canned pet food is rarely contaminated with pathogens. In a new analysis of 35 commercial raw dog and cat foods, researchers found that 86% of products contained potentially risky 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.

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

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.

Among the ideas fuelling the movement is that these diets are more "natural" for pets, avoid problems of additives or contamination in processed food, and can help to tackle issues like skin problems and allergies.

"T$3 he claimed health benefits attributed to the feeding of raw meat-based diets are mostly anecdotal, and no studies have produced results in support of these statements", the team writes in the study.

In general, the microbial evidence that the researchers gathered from their samples fell within acceptable limits for commercially produced pet products in the Netherlands. "I think that in the USA especially, owners are much more liking the convenience, and buy these products instead of preparing raw food on their own".

The research team urged pet owners to educate themselves before handling RMBDs and feeding them to their pets.