Raw deal

Experts raise concerns over raw meat diets for cats and dogs.

Experts are warning dog and cat owners to be aware of the risks associated with feeding their pets raw meat-based diets, instead of the more conventional dry or canned pet foods.

Raw meat pet food products are growing in popularity, but a new study from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has found it can have high levels of bacteria that pose potential health risks to both animals and people.

The study found 100% of samples of raw pet meat were contaminated with Enterobacteriaceae bacteria, the family to which E. coli belongs.

The presence of E. coli indicates faecal contamination or poor hygiene during processing of the meat. 

Other bacteria found in the meat includes Listeria and Salmonella which are known to cause serious illnesses in humans.

Veterinarian Daniella Dos Santos said pet owners should be aware of the risks associated with a raw meat diet.

“Pets can shed potentially harmful pathogens present in raw food into their environment, so there is a risk to owners both in handling the food and coming into contact with the animal,” Dr Dos Santos said.

“Pet owners who choose to feed a raw food diet should be aware of the potential health risks and take full precautions while storing and handling the food.”

Keep yourself safe

Follow these tips to reduce the risks of your pet’s raw diet:

  • Keep raw pet meat frozen until use.
  • Keep raw pet meat separate from human food and use separate utensils for pet food.
  • Ensure surfaces such as kitchen counters are thoroughly cleaned after preparing raw meat.
  • Avoid licks and kisses from pets that have just eaten raw meat.
  • Don’t feed raw meat if someone in your household is immunocompromised.