Raw pet food and superbugs

Barf - Raw Meat Diet for dogs

I have written about raw food diets in the past raw meat and your dog. This is often met with derision on social media, delirious owners opining how wonderful the raw diet is for their dogs – shiny noses, coats, etc. Any suggestion that the raw diet is not to be recommended can be met with fairly aggressive and zealot like responses.

A recent study undertaken at the Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 272, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland (Nüesch-Inderbinen M, Treier A, Zurfluh K, Stephan R. 2019 Raw meat-based diets for companion animals: a potential source of transmission of pathogenic and antimicrobialresistant Enterobacteriaceae. R. Soc. open sci. 6:191170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191170) (supplementary information) looked at Raw Meat Based Diets (RMDB) and would suggest that my concerns are well founded.

Of course, there are many claims made about the positive impact on dogs health and wellbeing reputed to be offered by raw diets. However, these are all anecdotal; there is zero scientific research to support these claims. This new study makes for disturbing reading.

The paper is quite long, but is well worth a read. Some key points:

  • 37 of 51 raw dog foods tested did not reach EU hygiene standards
  • 32 products contained bacteria resistant to antibiotics (so called, super bugs)
  • in 2017, four serious e-coli infections, related to raw dog food were reported in the UK, one of which was fatal

The researchers concluded:

  1. RMBDs represent an emerging route of exposure of pets and their owners to bacterial pathogens
  2. Resistant bacteria occurring in RMBDs include those that are identical to those causing disease in animals and humans worldwide, and those resistant to crucially important antimicrobials
  3. The possible transmission of harmful bacteria from RMBDs to companion animals and their owners poses a severe health risk, particularly to vulnerable persons such as infants, the elderly, pregnant or immuno-compromised individuals.

I have, of course, only provided some extracts from this research. Reading it in full is something I would recommend to responsible dog owners.

However, I will continue to avoid RMBDs at all costs. I believe it is like playing Russian roulette with the lives of our animals.