Feeding raw meat to pets could be risky, say scientists

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Toxoplasma gondii was found in two of the products.

Experts are warning pet owners to be aware of the risks associated with raw meat-based diets (RMBDs).

They wrote: "The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in RMBDs could therefore pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health - not only because infections with these bacteria are hard to treat, but also because of the potential of it contributing to a more widespread occurence of such bacteria".

The same study also recognized the safety risks surrounding possible pathogens in the uncooked meat.

Fifteen products contained species from the nasty Listeria genus, eight products had Escherichia coli, and seven products contained at least one Salmonella species.

Pet owners should be informed about the risks of feeding their pets raw meat diet products. Do you feed your pet raw meat, or do you think it's too risky?

Of course, there are reasons people look to raw pet food in the first place - they're concerned about what's in the processed food options available for cats and dogs, and what these ingredients could do.

It said the pathogens can be transferred "through direct contact with the food; through contact with a contaminated pet, such as sharing the same bed and allowing licking of the face and hands; through contact with household surfaces; or by ingesting cross-contaminated human food". These can then be passed to animals, and even their owners. Earlier analyses on raw pet food in the United States also found similar levels of contamination.

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

Four products contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and another four contained Sarcocystis tenella, both of which can cause nausea, stomach ache and diarrhea.

Commercial dry or canned pet foods are safer because the composition of the food is complete and optimally balanced in terms of nutrients, he said.

"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. RMDB feeding was linked to gastroenteritis and diarrhea in dogs, and to a deadly type ofSalmonella infection in cats, according to the study. He also believes that pet owners should be educated-by vets, pet stores, and pet-food companies-about the importance of personal hygiene and proper handling of these foods, so they can make the best decision for their pets and for themselves.