Experts raise concerns over raw meat diets for cats and dogs

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Previous research has already shown the risks associated with feeding raw meat-based diets to cats and dogs, including a risk of developing hyperthyroidism in dogs, inadequate nutritional balance, and contamination with parasites and pathogens.

Daniel Chan, professor of emergency and critical care medicine and clinical nutrition at the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, who was not involved in the research, said the new study added to a growing body of evidence on raw meat diets for pets. Conventional pet food is also heated during processing, which kills all germs.

The team said the bugs risked the health of the animals themselves, as well as their owners.

It's noted that raw meat can be infected with bacteria and parasites, which could cause serious issues when consumed by your cat or dog, or when hanging around in your kitchen.

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

Four products (11%) contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and four contained Sarcocystis tenella.

Salmonella was found in 20% of the products while species of sarcocystis were found in 23%.

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Overgaauw said dry, semi-moist and canned pet food is rarely contaminated with pathogens.

Despite the relatively low number of products tested in the study, the authors say it's clear that commercial RMBDs may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens, which can pose a risk to pets and to their owners.

Others argue that it's more natural for a carnivorous species to eat raw meat products. Do you feed your pet raw meat, or do you think it's too risky?

Writing in the journal Veterinary Record, the researchers describe how they analysed samples from 35 raw meat diet products across eight brands available in the Netherlands - a country where more than half of dog owners are thought to feed their dog, at least in part, with raw meat. They should be educated about proper handling of the products and personal hygiene measures, and the products should include warnings and handling instructions, the investigators said.

Raw meat-based treats for pets is becoming increasingly popular in Europe but scientists in the Netherlands, where 51% of pet owners - an estimated one million people - have adopted the trend, are warning against the diet.

"As an evidence-based working veterinarian, I don't support these products", he says-not only because of the risk of infection, but because not all of them offer complete and balanced nutrients that dogs and cats need to grow and stay healthy.