Get the Facts! “Raw Pet Food Diets can be Dangerous to You and Your Pet”
An emerging trend among pet owners is the practice of feeding dogs and cats raw meat.
This idea is that we should put our domestic cats and dogs on diets that more closely approximate what they might eat in nature.
New research from Europe shows the surprising degree to which germs and parasites can be found in commercial raw-meat products—
posing potential health risks to both pets and their owners.
An article in the Washington Post last year showed that grain-free, all-meat, and raw-food diets are one of the fastest growing sectors of the pet food market.
It’s kinda like the Paleo Diet, but for pets.
Trouble is, there’s no evidence that raw meat-based diets, or RMBDs, are any healthier than conventional dry or canned pet foods.
And as new research published in Vet Record for January 2018 now shows, these diets could pose a threat to both animal and human health.
Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs:
- Freek P J van Bree, BSc1,
- Gertie C A M Bokken, BSc1,
- Robin Mineur, BSc2,
- Frits Franssen, PhD2,
- Marieke Opsteegh, DVM, PhD2,
- Joke W B van der Giessen, DVM, PhD, DipECVP2,
- Len J A Lipman, DVM, PhD, DipECVPH1 and
- Paul A M Overgaauw, DVM, PhD, DipACVM1
A research team led by Paul Overgaauw at Utrecht University sought to learn if zoonotic bacteria and parasites, that is, bacteria and parasites that can leap between species, might be found in commercial RMBD products, and to what extent.
To that end, they analyzed 35 commercial frozen RMBDs from eight different brands.
In a new analysis of 35 commercial raw dog and cat foods, researchers found that 86% of products contained potentially dangerous bacteria!!
What they found was a bit disturbing.
The bacterium E. Coli was found in nearly a quarter of the products, and Salmonella in 20 percent of products.
Both of these pathogens are dangerous to humans and pets.
In addition, the researchers found various Listeria species in 43 percent of the products—bacteria that’s particularly dangerous to pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
Four of the products had the Sarcocystis cruzi and Sarcocystis tenella parasites (the former of which is transmissable to humans).
And finally, two of the products had Toxoplasma Gondii—a brain parasite that’s known to alter the behavior of animals, possibly even humans.
People could come into contact with these pathogens by touching the infected pet, handling contaminated pet food and surfaces, or consuming human food that has been cross-contaminated.
In addition to having owners educate themselves about the risks and engaging in good personal hygiene practices, the researchers advise that manufacturers include warnings and handling instructions on their products.
“Despite the relatively low sample size of frozen products in our study, 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,” write the researchers in their study.
“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.”
Jennifer Larsen, a clinical nutritionist at the University of California Veterinary School in Davis who wasn’t involved in the new study, agrees with the authors.
“We do not recommend the feeding of raw animal products (meat, egg, bone, etc), and these types of diets are not allowed in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital per our Infectious Disease Control Policy,” she told Gizmodo.
“There are risks to both animal and human health as a result of this practice, with no proven benefits.
This is backed by previous research that has found similar types of contamination in commercial raw pet diets, so the risks are well documented.”
Larsen pointed to policies and position statements regarding this issue from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the California VMA, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and the FDA .
Larsen is unconvinced by arguments stating that dogs and cats should be given foods that they’re more likely to eat in the wild.
“The goals we want for our pets include longevity, usually not reproducing, ideal nutrition and good body condition, and avoidance of trauma and disease,” she said.
“We do lots of things to protect them from what would happen in nature, such as starvation, disease, early and often reproduction, trauma from accidents and fights, and very short lifespan.
We have the ability to do this thanks to scientific advancements in nutrition, medical therapy, and preventative veterinary care (neutering, vaccines), as well as the use of leashes and fences and moving them indoors.”
Importantly—and as Larsen points out—dogs and cats are not “natural.”
We created them for our own purposes, using them for hunting partners, companionship, farm work, and so on.
“Since they essentially evolved on human garbage and have excelled at this scavenger lifestyle—and most dogs worldwide still live this way—it is not realistic to imagine them as wolves,” said Larsen.
“Cats are closer to their undomesticated state, but we still want them to live long lives and not transmit diseases to us when they sleep in our beds and walk on our kitchen counter tops!”
Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of the Petfood Industry/Petfood Forum (a business-to-business publication with an audience of pet food professionals around the world, including people who make and market pet food), says her organization doesn’t advise pet owners on what they should feed their pets, but she did point us to a study by scientists from South Korea, who found that “eating homemade raw dog food for more than a year correlated to different microbes thriving in dogs’ intestines compared to the guts of dogs fed store-bought dry kibble.”
RAW CHICKEN LINKED TO PARALYSIS IN DOGS
As pet ownership increases across the world, our furry friends have become firmly established members of the family.
Wanting the best for our pets, we often offer treats, and chicken necks are a favorite in many families – often considered a ‘healthy’ option.
Vets are warning raw chicken could be dangerous and owners should stick with regular dog food.
Particularly chicken necks, can lead to a debilitating and potentially fatal form of paralysis in dogs.
A new study, led by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, found the consumption of raw chicken meat increases the risk of dogs developing a paralyzing condition called acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times.
Dr Matthias le Chevoir, chief investigator on the project, says the cause of APN in dogs has baffled the veterinary community for a long time.
Vets are warning that raw chicken, particularly chicken necks, can lead to debilitating and potentially fatal form of paralysis in dogs.
Published on Jan 31, 2018~University of Melbourne study
Perhaps the most damning evidence comes from the Canadian Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine tested over 1000 samples of pet food for bacteria that can cause food borne illnesses.
They were specifically interested in the bacteria which causes salmonella and for L. monocytogenes which cause listeria.
Their results were quite clear.
Salmonella appeared in 7.6% of the samples of raw food (that’s one out of every 13 samples tested) and the bacteria for listeria was more than twice as likely to be present, totaling 16% of the samples tested (which is approximately one out of every seven samples).
These bacteria did not appear in any of the samples of other dog food tested whether it was dry dog food, semi-moist dog food, or jerky type treats — that is 0% of the other samples.
2018 RECALLS ON RAW PET FOOD.
|Date||Brand Name||Product Description||Reason/ Problem||Company|
|03/26/2018||Blue Ridge Beef||Complete raw pet food||May contain Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes||Blue Ridge Beef|
|03/26/2018||Natural Selections and Zoologics||Fresh raw meals for dogs||May contain Salmonella and E. coli O128||Darwin’s Natural Pet Products|
|03/22/2018||Milo’s Kitchen||Dog treats||Products potentially contain elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone.||J.M. Smucker Company|
|03/20/2018||Rad Cat||Free-Range Chicken and Turkey Recipes (Raw Diet) for Cats||Listeria monocytogenes||Radagast Pet Food, Inc.|
|03/06/2018||Tucker’s||5lb Pork-Bison Box||Potential Salmonella contamination||Raw Basics, LLC|
|03/06/2018||Redbarn, Chewy Louie, Dentley’s, and Good Lovin’||Bully Stick dog food||Potential contamination with Saslmonella||Redbarn Pet Products, LLC|
|03/02/2018||Steve’s Real Foods||Raw frozen dog food turkey canine recipe||potential to be contaminated with Salmonella||Steve’s Real Foods|
|03/01/2018||Blue Ridge Beef||Raw pet food for cats||Presence of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes||Name Blue Ridge Beef|
|02/24/2018||Vital Essentials||Freeze-dried beef nibblets for dogs||Potential to be contaminated with Salmonella||Carnivore Meat Company|
|02/23/2018||Trudog||Dog food||Salmonella||TruPet, LLC|
|Date||Brand Name||Product Description||Reason/ Problem||Company|
|02/23/2018||Northwest Naturals||Dog food||Listeria monocytogenes||Northwest Naturals|
|02/15/2018||Smokehouse||Dog treats||Potential Salmonella contamination||Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc.|
|02/13/2018||Zoologics and more||ZooLogics Duck with Vegetable Meals for Dogs, ZooLogics Chicken with Vegetable Meals for Dogs and more||Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes||Arrow Reliance Inc. dba Darwin’s Natural|
|02/09/2018||Redbarn||Dog Chews||Potentially contaminated with Salmonella||Redbarn Pet Products|
|02/08/2018||Raws for Paws||Ground turkey pet food||potential to be contaminated with Salmonella||Raws for Paws|
|02/08/2018||Smokehouse||Dog treats||Potential Salmonella contamination||Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc.|
|01/19/2018||JustFoodForDogs||Dog Food||Listeria monocytogenes||JustFoodForDogs|