There has been an increasing trend for pet owners to feed their animals raw meat. If you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon yet, then you may be wondering what the attraction of raw meat is. The trend has been driven by the desire to provide the most natural diets for pets and to avoid the additives in proprietary pet foods.
Some owners believe that raw meat can help tackle health issues such as skin problems and allergies. The foods concerned can feature meat, bones and offal and can be frozen and then fed to pets when required.
But scientists are now warning that raw meat foods contain pathogens which present a threat to
both the animals and their owners.
New Research into Raw Meat Diets
Researchers have been keen to point that there is no evidence of any health benefits for dogs and cats which eat a raw meat diet and that this food can cause injuries, growth problems and illness. Raw meat can be deficient in important nutrients that pets need to remain in the best of health.
The latest study undertaken by Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that meat can be infected with bacteria and parasites. In the journal Veterinary Record, the researchers have described how they analysed samples from 35 raw meat diet products across eight brands in the Netherlands where more than half of all dog owners are thought to feed their dog, at least partly, with raw meat.
Disturbing Test Results
A disturbing 23% of the products that the scientists tested contained a type of E coli that can cause renal failure in humans and 80% of the products across seven brands contained antibiotic-resistant E coli. Listeria was found in more than half of the products, salmonella in 20% and Toxoplasma gondii in 6%.
Unfortunately, the bacteria remain dangerous, even if the food is frozen. The potential risks of raw meats have been known for some time but the Dutch study was the first to look at commercially available foods. These foods clearly do not remove the risk of pathogens often found in home-prepared food and drug resistant bacteria were found during the tests.
Health Warnings Required
People generally cook the meat they are going to eat themselves and this process removes the pathogens. But the pet food is a very different story. Scientists are now suggesting that the foods containing raw meat should carry warnings about the risks and that vets should discuss raw meat diets with their clients.
There is no evidence that raw meat diets offer any benefits to pets including relief from allergies. Both dogs and cats are almost certainly more likely to prosper on a diet of good-quality complete foods. The leading pet food brands conduct extensive research to formulate recipes which feature all of the nutrients that animals need and both dog foods and cat foods are available for animals of every age including those with sensitive stomachs and intolerance to grains.