Vets say that feeding pets a raw meat-based diet (RMBD) instead of the more conventional dry or canned pet foods has become increasingly popular but brings with it increased risk of infection from food bugs and parasites.
Others argue that it's more natural for a carnivorous species to eat raw meat products.
The Utrecht study said claims RMBDs yield health benefits had no scientific evidence supporting them, adding: "in nutritional terms, these diets are often deficient in several nutrients and may therefore lead to serious health problems, especially in young animals that are growing".
In fact, humans may face higher risks than their critters, who are carriers and shedders of the meds even when they don't become sick. Humans may even be exposed to damaging pathogens when clearing an infected animal's waste or when an infected animal licks its proprietor face or hands on.
The team points out that the relatively small sample size doesn't allow for a calculation of the precise risks involved if you buy your cat or dog raw meat-based products.
Within a brand new study of 35 firm raw dog and cat food items, researchers found that 86 percent of services and products contained potentially harmful germs.
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A team of researchers in the Netherlands have said that the foods could be contaminated with bacteria and parasites. Even more worrisome, E. coli 0157-a particularly risky strain now responsible for a lettuce-based outbreak in North America-was found in 23% of the samples. Species of salmonella were found in 20 percent of the products, sarcocystis in 23 percent and Toxoplasma gondii in six percent.
Some 23 percent of the tested products contained a strain of E coli bacteria that can cause renal failure in humans.
"Feeding of freshly prepared, non-frozen raw meat based-diets to companion animals cannot only result in infection and disease in the animals, but also poses a risk to public health and livestock farming through shedding of pathogens into the environment", the researchers conclude. That can have further implications for pet owners and for public health in general.
"Every owner may decide what to feed his or her pet", says Overgaauw, but he does believe that warning labels should be added to products containing raw meat.
Commercial raw-meat pet foods sold in the United States and Europe contain "all kinds of meat, organs, and bones, sometimes with vegetables or fruits added", says Overgaauw.
"It is important to encourage awareness of the possible risks associated with feeding RMBDs to companion animals, and pet owners should be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of RMBDs", said the paper.