April 20, 2024

Raw Dog Food Can Be Risky For Humans and Pets

According to a new study published in Veterinary Record, raw meat based diets for dogs pose a threat to humans and the dogs because they can be contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, and Enterobacteriaceae.  The study showed that some of these raw products have high levels of pathogens.

Raw dog food diet

Many recalls of frozen raw pet foods have been issued in the United States over the past few years. Those products have also been linked to human illnesses.

In 2018, one person was sickened with a Salmonella infection after feeding a family pet Darwin’s Natural raw ground chicken pet food. That product tested positive for  E. coli O128, Salmonella, and/or Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. And in January 2019, a Salmonella patient in Minnesota prompted a recall of Woody’s Pet Food Deli Raw Free Range Turkey pet food.

The study was conducted in Sweden. Researchers analyzed 60 frozen packs of raw dog food that were made by ten different manufacturers in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Germany. More than half contained levels of bacteria that were higher than the threshold set by the European Union.

Enterobacteriaceae, which is a pathogen used by food manufacturers as a hygiene marker, was found in all 60 raw dog food samples. Clostridium perfringens was found in two samples, Salmonella was found in four, and Campylobacter in three of the samples.

The study’s authors state that these findings show that people need to be careful when feeding their dogs and other pets raw food diets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend consumers feed these foods to their pets.

The issue is that there are several ways that these pathogens can make their way from the pet food to people. One is by improper handling of the food that causes cross-contamination. Another is that the animal may contract an infection from the food and may not even show symptoms. Anyone who handles the animal’s feces, or who pets that animal, can pick up the pathogens on their hands and make themselves or others sick. Finally, since the pathogens are shed in the pet’s feces, they can pick up the pathogens on their feet and bring it into the house. This is especially dangerous if there are small children in the house who may crawl around on the floor.

In addition, the researchers warn that the elderly and people who impaired immune systems avoid these raw food products, because they are more susceptible to serious complications from a foodborne illness.

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