If you have been feeding your pets raw meat, you must be aware of the possible dangers your pets, and even you may face. Researchers analyzed 35 commercially-available raw-meat cat and dog foods. They discovered that 86% of these foods have possible dangerous bacteria.
According to BMJ’s Vet Record, dog and cat foods in the Netherlands were subjects of the study. Raw-meat diets are popular around the world, but there is no evidence that such foods have health benefits. In fact, according to numerous studies, they may have potential risks.
The Research Findings about Raw Meat in Pet Food
According to Utrecht University researcher and veterinarian Paul Overgaauw, people can also get sick from parasites and bacteria found in raw meat products. They may even be shedders and carriers of these pathogens.
Cross-contamination can occur during food preparation, or when cleaning the food bowls. Also, direct contact with infected animals poses a higher risk. A person may get sick when his infected pet licks his hands or face, or when he cleans up his pet’s waste.
In the research of Overgaauw and his group, they discovered that frozen pet products have bones, raw meat, animal by-products from duck, lamb, beef, chicken, horse, and other ingredients.
Research findings showed that 40% of the tested pet-food products have high levels of E. coli bacteria. In 23% of the products, the researchers found traces of E. coli 0157, a dangerous strain of bacteria that wreaked havoc in North America because of a lettuce-based outbreak. 43% of the samples had listeria bacteria, while 20% of them had salmonella bacteria.
11% of the products had Sarcocystis cruzi parasite while 6% of the samples had Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Sarcocystis cruzi is harmful to farm animals. Toxoplasma gondii causes illnesses in humans and cats in the United States. In fact, it causes mental illness to people who have cats.
Researchers said that even though the number of products tested was low, these raw-meat pet diets were contaminated by various parasitic and bacterial pathogens. Other studies showed that animals which ate raw-meat diets were more likely to have antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Convenience of Buying Raw-Meat Pet Food vs. Preparing Own Pet Food
In Europe and the United States, commercially-available raw-meat pet products have different kinds of bones, organs, and meat. Sometimes, they also had fruits or vegetables. Pet owners may like the convenience that these foods offer. They do not have to prepare raw food for their cats and dogs.
Aside from contamination and risk of infection, these raw-meat diets available in the market do not provide balanced and complete nutrients for the animals to stay healthy and to grow. According to Overgaauw, pet owners have the freedom to decide which food is better for their pets. But, Overgaauw believes that each of these products must have warning labels.
Education is important for pet owners. Pet-food companies, pet stores, and veterinarians must education these pet owners about proper food handling and personal hygiene. Ultimately, these pet owners must make an informed decision not only for their pets but for themselves as well.