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.
“We see that more and more people are feeding [cats and dogs] this kind of product and we know that meat is infected with bacteria and parasites,” said Paul Overgaauw, co-author of the new research from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. With many studies focused on North America, Overgaauw said it was necessary to look at the situation in Europe.
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.
After thawing the meat, the scientists looked for the presence of salmonella, listeria, E coli and antibiotic-resistant E coli as well as two types of parasites: species of Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma gondii – a parasite that, among its risks can cause problems in babies.
The results reveal that 23% of the products tested contained a type of E coli that can cause renal failure in humans, while 80% of products across seven brands contained antibiotic-resistant E coli.
Moreover, species of listeria were found in more than half of products, while salmonella species were found in 20%, species of sarcocystis in 23% and Toxoplasma gondii in 6%.
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. As well as calling for increased awareness, the authors suggest that raw meat diets should be labelled to highlight the risks.
Het volledige artikel is verschenen in The Guardian, 12 januari 2018