Experts are warning pet owners against feeding their cats and dogs on raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) because the food may carry deadly bugs - and they could be passed between animals and people. In an email, the study authors said that raw-meat pet foods for sale in the United States are "without a doubt similar" to those tested in the study.
Among the ideas fuelling the movement is that these diets are more "natural" for pets, avoid problems of additives or contamination in processed food, and can help to tackle issues like skin problems and allergies.
This isn't the first time researchers have warned pet owners against raw meat-based diets. They found that 23% of the products contained a specific type of E coli that can cause renal failure in humans and 80% had antibiotic-resistant E coli.
A recent trend in feeding pets raw meat, bones and organs in diets that are considered more "natural" by some owners, is receiving heavy criticism from experts who say these "food" sources could be risky for both animal and human alike, the Guardian reported.
It said the pathogens can be transferred "through direct contact with the food; through contact with a contaminated pet, such as sharing the same bed and allowing licking of the face and hands; through contact with household surfaces; or by ingesting cross-contaminated human food".
Eight products contained Sarcocystes parasites and two products (6 percent) contained Toxoplasma gondii parasites.
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As such, researchers said that the bacteria and parasitic pathogens found in the foods may be a possible source of infection in pets and, if transmitted, pose a risk for human beings too.
They wrote: "The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in RMBDs could therefore pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health - not only because infections with these bacteria are hard to treat, but also because of the potential of it contributing to a more widespread occurence of such bacteria".
The Dutch study, which analysed 35 products, found E coil in eight, listeria species present in 15 products and salmonella in seven. Some manufacturers say it's what dogs and cats would eat in the wild, claiming it will give them shinier coats, fresher breath, and higher energy levels.
He also believes that pet owners should be educated-by vets, pet stores, and pet-food companies-about the importance of personal hygiene and proper handling of these foods, so they can make the best decision for their pets and for themselves.
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.