You shouldn't feed your dog raw meat. This is why

David Baileys via Getty Images

The team of researchers, led by Paul Overgaauw at Utrecht University, set out to determine the presence of four zoonotic bacteria and two parasite species in commercial raw-meat foods, available in most pet shops and supermarkets.

Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association, said: "We have seen a growing interest in raw pet food and we know from our contact with the veterinary profession that vets are getting more questions from pet owners on these diets and how they can feed them safely".

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. Meanwhile, in two products (six per cent), Toxoplasma gondii was found.

Four of the products analysed contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and four contained Sarcocystis tenella. But when we feed our pets raw meat, that bacteria thrives.

"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", they add. "The most concerning from our public health point of view is that they are finding multi-drug resistant bacteria in the food source", he said.

Past year a charitable scheme which sends dogs into schools to help children read, Burns By Your Side, announced it had banned the use of animals fed on raw meats because of the health risk to children.

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The growing trend of feeding dogs and cats raw meat is putting the health of animals and their owners at risk, a new study warns.

It is reported that humans could encounter bacteria from raw foods in several ways, including direct contact with the food or with an infected pet; through contact with contaminated household surfaces; or by eating cross-contaminated human food.

The research concluded that raw meat products should come with health risk warnings on the labels and packaging.

"It is important to encourage awareness of the possible risks associated with feeding RMBDs to companion animals, and pet owners should be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of RMBDs".

If you're planning to do the switch, keep in mind, that some pets develop gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhoea, when changing to a raw meat-based diet.

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