Dogs fed raw meat are more likely to shed antibiotic resistant bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) in their feces, veterinarians have warned.
Previous research has shown that it is also possible that E. Coli is transmitted from dogs to their human owners through normal everyday interaction.
Researchers from the University of Bristol suggest that pet owners who feed their dogs raw should take extra care when cleaning up their messes.
They also suggest that the fad diet is not the safest choice for a domestic dog for this reason.
Matthew Avison, professor of molecular bacteriology in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said: “We need to do everything we can to reduce the circulation of E. coli and other critically important antibiotic resistant bacteria.
“Our research adds to the growing body of evidence that not feeding dogs raw meat can contribute to this goal.”
Raw feeding is what it sounds – feeding your pet raw ingredients, rather than the traditional cooked foods that are more commonly available (stock image)
Researchers at the University of Bristol suggest that pet owners who feed their dogs raw should take extra care when cleaning up their messes, as they are more likely to shed the antibiotic-resistant bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) in their feces.
WHAT IS “RAW FOOD”?
Raw feeding involves feeding your pet raw ingredients, rather than the traditional cooked foods that are more commonly available.
Raw diets usually contain a combination of raw meat and other uncooked ingredients such as certain fruits and vegetables.
Many people who feed their dogs a raw diet do so because they see it as a more “natural” option than traditional dog food.
However, there are no studies that prove raw dog food is better than traditional dog food.
Owners who feed their dogs or cats a raw diet often claim that they see a lot of good changes in their pet.
This can range from a shinier coat and more energy to less smelly poop!
But many of the apparent benefits of raw diets can be easily achieved by making sure you feed your pet a balanced, age-appropriate diet.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Prof Avison added: ‘Our studies show that dogs, whether puppies or adults, are more likely to carry antibiotic resistant bacteria in their guts if they are fed raw meat than if fed kibble and other processed dog foods.
“This adds to the growing body of peer-reviewed evidence that raw meat diets are associated with various risks of bacterial infectious diseases in dogs.
“I cannot comment on the potential benefits associated with eating raw meat, but I have also seen no evidence that good quality processed dog food does not provide good quality nutrition to dogs.
“Based on this, I chose to give my two dogs, Wilma and Doris, good quality kibble.
“Others should be free to make their own choice, but should do so knowing that eating raw carries potential risks.”
E. coli are bacteria that typically live in the intestines of healthy people and animals.
Infections can occur after coming into contact with human or animal feces, or by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection include bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
In rare cases, sufferers may develop hemolytic uraemic syndrome, a disease that affects the kidneys and blood clotting functions of infected people.
The study, published today in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, collected data from 600 adult dogs and their owners.
The owners completed questionnaires about their dogs, their diet and their environment, and provided samples of their dogs’ feces.
The samples were then analyzed for the presence of E. coli, while risk factor analyzes were performed using the results of their questionnaires.
The researchers wanted to determine the links between the detection of E. coli and lifestyle factors or environments reported in the homeowner survey.
While raw food was an important risk factor for dogs living in the countryside, that of dogs living in cities was more complicated.
Vets say this could reflect the variety of lifestyles and exposures among dogs in the city, as swimming in rivers has been shown to be a low risk factor.
Professor Avison said: ‘Antibiotic resistant bacteria are everywhere, but some antibiotics are considered extremely important for use in humans.
“We have shown that dogs fed raw meat are more likely to carry bacteria resistant to these important drugs.
“It does not mean that the animal, or the owner, will get sick.
‘E. coli is a common bacterium found in the intestines of all humans and animals.
“However, it is a common cause of many illnesses, including urinary tract infection, and can cause serious illness, including sepsis, if it spreads to other parts of the body.”
In a study published last month, researchers concluded that raw food is associated with the carriage of E. antibiotic-resistant coli in the feces of dogs as young as 16 weeks old, regardless of feeding duration (stock image)
Results of a study of 16-week-old puppies and their owners, and associations with risk factors for E. coli resistant to at least one test antibiotic
These results support those obtained in another study published last month in the journal One Health.
The team recruited 223 16-week-old puppies and their owners for analyzes of risk factors and similar fecal samples.
They concluded that raw food is associated with the carriage of E. coli in young dogs, regardless of diet duration.
It has also been found that bacteria carried by puppies are shared with humans.
Kristen Reyher, co-author and professor of veterinary epidemiology and population health at Bristol Veterinary School, said: “We know that humans and animals share bacteria, so what we find in your pet may also be within you.
“Pet owners should be encouraged to practice good hygiene and not feeding your dog raw food can be one of them.
“We can all do our part to reduce antibiotic resistance and its terrible effects on human and animal health.”
How trendy raw meat dog food could see pet owners risk dangerous insects, including E. coli, when they ‘kiss’ their pooches after eating
Raw pet food is said to be similar to a dog’s natural diet if it were in the wild, and is claimed to give it fresher breath and a shinier coat.
But a study has found that the food, consisting mostly of uncooked organ meats, meat and bones, contains food-poisoning insects, including E. coli and salmonella.
Scientists say it can be harmful to the elderly, babies and people with low immunity, who could get sick from handling food bowls or cooking equipment, or licking their dog’s face.
The research, published in the journal Veterinary Record, looked at raw dog food made by 10 different manufacturers, based in countries including Britain and Sweden.
The researchers found that a third of the 60 samples they took contained E. coli, nearly a third of which contained another insect, Clostridium perfringens, known to cause outbreaks of food poisoning. Salmonella was found in seven percent of the samples.
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