Raw dog and cat foods often carry parasites and bacteria that could be harmful to your four-legged friend, new research in the journal Veterinary Record warns.
"We see that more and more people are feeding (cats and dogs) this kind of product and we know that meat is infected with bacteria and parasites," co-author of the new research, Paul Overgaauw, told the Guardian.
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 dangerous for both animal and human alike, the Guardian reported.
Scientists are saying that claims made in favor of this kind of diet — like that it gets around the issue of additives in processed foods and can combat allergy and skin problems — are unfounded and can instead lead to dental and gut injuries, growth problems and malnutrition.
"We don't have any scientific evidence to support those claims," emergency and critical care professor Daniel Chan, who was not involved with the research, told the news site.
The Netherlands-based study analyzed 35 frozen, raw meat pet foods, looking for evidence of contaminants like salmonella, listeria and E coli. 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. More than half of the food had listeria species present, 20% contained salmonella and 23% had sarcocystis — a parasite that causes anorexia, nausea and abdominal pain.
Researchers said these raw meat foods should be labeled to reflect their potential risks, which include cross contamination with human foods or pathogen shedding by pets — both of which could be harmful to people. The study also stressed that there is no difference in the possible danger between packaged, frozen meats and raw food prepared at home.
"The most concerning from our public health point of view is that they are finding multi-drug resistant bacteria in the food source," Dr. Chan said.