It has become very popular, today, for pet owner to feed their dogs and cats raw meat. While this might sound good in theory—all natural versus processed—however, studies now show that this could be dangerous not only to health of your furry family member, but to every member of the family as well.
Dutch scientists are saying that a raw meat-based diet significantly increases risk fro infection from all kinds of traumatic bugs—like salmonella and E. coli and listeria—as well as parasites like toxoplasma.
Paul Overgaauw—of the Division of Veterinary Public Health at Utrecht University—explains, “We see that more and more people are feeding [pets] this kind of product and we know that meat is infected with bacteria and parasites.” He adds, “While pets are directly exposed to food-borne pathogens when they ingest food, there are several ways in which pet owners and other household members can also encounter such pathogens.”
He goes on to say, “This can be 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.”
Published in the journal Vet Record, the study looked at 35 commercially available frozen raw meat-based diets from eight different brands, specifically analyzing for zoonotic bacteria and parasites.
Sure enough, they were able to find E. coli O157 isolated from eight different products, as well as listeria species isolated from 15 products and salmonella species isolated in seven products. Furthermore, they found that at least four products contained a parasite known as Sarcocystis cruzi as well as another four products which contained Sarcocystis tenella. Both of these can result in nausea, stomach ache, and diarrhea. Two products, the scientists say, had Toxoplasma gondii, which is what leads to a common infection known as toxoplasmosis.
Overgaauw advises that the dry and/or semi-moist and canned pet food is rarely contaminated with these pathogens. And this is important because if your pet gets sick with one of these infections it certainly increases risk for infection among the rest of your family members.
He notes, “Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health.”