About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Raw Meat Dog Food Products: High Levels of Potentially Harmful Bacteria Found

by Colleen Fleiss on March 6, 2019 at 11:14 AM
Font : A-A+

Raw Meat Dog Food Products: High Levels of Potentially Harmful Bacteria Found

Dogs' raw meat diet which contains high levels of potentially harmful bacteria could be dangerous to both animals and people, stated new research published online in Vet Record. This is a particular issue for infants, the elderly, and those with poor immunity, warn the researchers.

But, unlike commercial feeds, raw meat products are not heat treated or freeze dried to pasteurise their content. A raw meat-based diet has become increasingly popular for dogs in recent years, because it is seen as a 'healthier' and more 'natural alternative' to widely available commercial products.


To try and gauge the levels of bacteria in these products, the researchers took samples from 60 packs of raw meat products, bought from a range of stores within a 200 km radius of their laboratory between March and September 2017.

The products, which were all intended for dogs, contained at least one of: uncooked meat; and edible bones and/or organs from cattle, chicken, lamb, turkeys, pigs, ducks, reindeer or salmon. Some of the products also included vegetables, vegetable fibre, and minerals.

All the products, made by 10 different manufacturers, originated from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany or England.

The samples were analysed for bacteria that could potentially pose a health risk to animals and people: Enterobacteriaceae species; Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella and Campylobacterspecies.

All 60 samples contained Enterobacteriaceae species, which are indicators of faecal contamination and hygiene standards.

Levels varied widely among the different manufacturers, and in some cases, among the different products from the same manufacturer.

But 31 (52%) of the samples contained levels that exceeded the maximum threshold set by European Union (EU) regulations of 5000 bacteria per gram.

Most of the species identified are not known to cause infection, apart from E coli, which was found in about a third of the samples.

C perfringens, another marker of faecal contamination and hygiene standards, was found in 18 samples (30%); two of the samples exceeded the maximum limits set by Swedish guidelines.

Salmonella and Campylobacter are zoonotic species of bacteria-capable of passing from animals to people and causing infection. EU regulations don't permit Salmonella in any animal feed.

Salmonella species were found in 4 (7%) of the 60 samples, while Campylobacter species were found in three samples from three different manufacturers. This is a relatively low level, but possibly because Campylobacterspecies are very sensitive to freezing, say the researchers.

"It is most likely that Campylobacter was present in more samples before freezing, and that those samples in whichCampylobacter was isolated contained very high levels of Campylobacter species before the freezing process, as some managed to survive the freezer," they write.

The findings prompt the researchers to highlight the importance of careful storage, handling, and feeding of raw meat dog food products because of the potential health risks they pose.

They make several recommendations, designed to curb the risk of infection and antibiotic resistance. Raw meat dog food should be:

Kept frozen until use, and thawed at 10 degrees C

Kept separate from other food

Handled with separate kitchen equipment or with equipment that is washed thoroughly after use

Good hygiene is essential, they emphasise: bacteria in the juices from raw meat dog food can splash and spread to other foods and surfaces, and dogs can transfer potentially harmful and/or antibiotic resistant bacteria by 'kissing' faces immediately after eating.

"Dogs in families with infants, elderly people or immunocompromised individuals should also not be fed [raw meat products], as these groups are more susceptible to infections," they warn.

British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos commented: "This research offers further compelling evidence to support vets' concerns about the potential animal and public health risks associated with feeding pets a raw meat-based diet.

"Bacteria such as E coli and Salmonella can cause significant gastrointestinal disease in animals. Pets can also shed potentially harmful pathogens present in raw food into their environment, so there is a risk to owners both in handling the food and coming into contact with the animal. Pet owners who choose to feed a raw food diet should be aware of the potential health risks and take full precautions while storing and handling the food.

"BVA would also not recommend making a raw food diet at home without veterinary guidance due to the potential for nutritional deficiencies in homemade diets.

"We would advise any owner wanting to try a raw meat-based diet for their pet to first consult a veterinary surgeon."

Source: Eurekalert


Recommended Reading

Latest General Health News

More Than 300 People on Texas-Mexico Cruise Ship Fall Sick
Over 300 people had fallen sick with illness caused by Norovirus on a US cruise ship, say authorities.
 No Smoking Day 2023: Ex-smokers in Wakefield Lead the Campaign
Ex-smokers in Wakefield have shared their stories to encourage others to give up cigarettes on No Smoking Day 2023 which falls on 8th March.
New Protein Linked to Neurodegeneration
Total levels of m6A in the nervous system rise with age and that (some) neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by RNA hypermethylation.
How Stress Disrupts Maturation of Brain's Reward Circuits?
New study provides insights into the impact of early-life adversity on brain development and on control of reward behaviors that underlie emotional disorders
 Indonesia Partners With FIND for Diagnostic Testing Access Initiative
Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia signed a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will expand access to essential diagnostics in the country.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close

Raw Meat Dog Food Products: High Levels of Potentially Harmful Bacteria Found Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests