If you’ve thought about feeding your dog or cat a raw diet, you’re not alone — raw meat-based diets have grown in popularity in recent years. But new research says feeding your pet raw meat can actually put you in danger.
We know you probably think you’re doing a lovely thing for your cat or dog by giving them fresh, uncooked meat (that’s what they’d eat in the wild, right?), but it turns out that a raw food diet really isn’t the best option for your pets.
New research from Utrecht University in the Netherlands suggests that in addition to a lack of evidence for any health benefits, raw meat diets for pets can cause dental and gut injuries, growth problems, deficiencies in certain nutrients, and infection.
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.
Researchers analysed 35 raw meat products from eight different brands on sale in the Netherlands (where more than 50% of dog owners feed their dogs raw meat).
23% of the products tested contained E coli – a type that can cause kidney failure in humans – and 80% contained antiobiotic-resistant E coli.
Four products (11%) contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and four contained Sarcocystis tenella. In two products (6%), Toxoplasma gondii was found. Eek.
While a lot of these products are frozen, this only kills of parasites, not bacteria. When the meat is thawed and then given to pets, the bacteria’s still there to pose all kinds of risks to both pets and humans.
When we buy frozen meat for ourselves, we tend to kill off any bacteria by cooking it. But when we feed our pets raw meat, that bacteria thrives.
That bacteria can then be passed on to humans, either through direct contact with the food (such as placing it into our dog’s bowl, through contact with contaminated household surfaces, eating cross-contaminated human food, or even through contact with your pet.