raw meat based diets and bacteria

A recent article published in the British Veterinary Journal, Vet Record, based on a study done by Utrecht University scientists would say —- NO !!

The  study showed  “no  evidence for any benefit for raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) compared to mainstream dry or canned foods  and may even be less nutritious” for pets and such diets, “places pet owners at risk of serious disease.”  They additionally, asserted. “In nutritional terms, these diets are often deficient in several nutrients and may, therefore, lead to a serious health problem, especially in young animals that are growing.”

RMBDs include raw dried dog and cat treats such as pig ears, home-prepared meats based from food sold for human consumption and commercial raw meats marketed for pets.  The study analyzed over 30 RMBDs and found significant pathogenic bacteria in the products:  E.coli 0157 was isolated from almost 25 % of the products, Salmonella species were found in 20% and Listeria species present in 43 %  of the products.  Additionally, the products tested positive for several parasites:  11% of the products tested positive for one of two species of Sarcocystis and 6% revealed Toxoplasma gondii. Researchers also found evidence that the meat harbored antibiotic-resistant species of bacteria.

The Science is Clear

The scientist stated that “it is clear that commercial RMBDs may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and if transmitted pose a risk for human beings.”

Pets fed RMBDs can pass pathogens to humans through direct contact, such as licking or brushing up against them, as well as, through direct contact with the food, through contact with household surfaces or by ingesting cross-contaminated human food.

They issued several dire warnings for pets and pet owners feeding RMBDs.  “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 difficult to treat, but also because of the potential of it contributing to a more widespread occurrence of such bacteria.”

This study very conclusively, confirms that there is no benefit for animals to eat a raw diet and there is significant evidence that it can, not only harm the pet but can pose risks to human health, especially the young, old or otherwise immunocompromised individuals.

So for everyone’s sake – Just Say No to Raw Diets!

Dr. Denise Follett has authored and co-authored several articles published in research journals, as well as a chapter in a textbook. In 2013, Dr. Follett was chosen to be one of only 12 finalists out of 1100 nominees for America’s Favorite Veterinarian! She has also held various positions on the executive boards of local veterinary associations and the Wisconsin State Veterinary Association for the past 20 years.

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