Dogs that are fed raw meat are more likely to excrete the antibiotic-resistant bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) in their faeces, vets have warned.
Prior research has shown that there also is potential for the E. Coli to be passed from the dogs to their human owners through normal, every day interaction.
Researchers at the University of Bristol suggest that pet owners who are raw feeding their dogs should take extra precautions when cleaning up their mess.
They also suggest that the fashionable diet is not the safest choice for a domesticated dog for this reason.
Matthew Avison, Professor of Molecular Bacteriology from the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said: ‘We should do everything we can to reduce the circulation of critically important antibiotic-resistant E. coli and other bacteria.
‘Our research adds to the increasing evidence that not feeding raw meat to dogs may help in that objective.’
Raw feeding is as it sounds – feeding your pet raw ingredients, rather than the traditional cooked food that is more commonly available (stock image)
Researchers at the University of Bristol suggest that pet owners who are raw feeding their dogs should take extra precautions when cleaning up their mess, as they are more likely excrete the antibiotic-resistant bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) in their faeces
WHAT IS ‘RAW FEEDING’?
Raw feeding is feeding your pet raw ingredients, rather than the traditional cooked food that is more commonly available.
Raw diets usually contain a combination of raw meat and other uncooked ingredients such as certain fruits and vegetables.
A lot of people who feed their dogs a raw diet do so because they see it as being a more ‘natural’ option to traditional dog food.
However, there are no studies to support that raw feeding 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 glossier coat and more energy, to less smelly poos!
But a lot of the apparent benefits of raw diets can be easily achieved by making sure you’re feeding your pet any balanced, age appropriate diet.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Professor Avison added: ‘Our studies show that dogs, whether puppies or adults, are more likely to carry antibiotic resistant bacteria in their intestines if they are fed raw meat than if they are fed kibble and other processed dog food.
‘This adds to the increasing body of peer-reviewed evidence that raw meat feeding is associated with various bacterial infectious diseases risks in dogs.
‘I cannot comment on any potential benefits associated with raw meat feeding but equally I have not seen any evidence that good quality processed dog food fails to provide good quality nutrition for dogs.
‘On that basis, I choose to feed my two dogs, Wilma and Doris, good quality kibble.
‘Others should be free to make their own choice but should do so in the knowledge that raw feeding comes with some potential risks.’
E. coli are bacteria that generally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals.
Infections can occur after coming into contact with the faeces of humans or animals, or by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.
Symptoms of an E.coli infection include bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
In rare cases sufferers can develop hemolytic uremic 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.
Owners completed questionnaires about their dogs, the dogs’ diets and environment, and provided faecal samples from their dogs.
The samples were then analysed for the presence of E. coli, while risk factor analyses were conducted using their questionnaire results.
The researchers wanted to determine any links between E. coli detection and lifestyle factors or environments reported in the owner survey.
While raw feeding was a strong risk factor for dogs living in the countryside, those for city-dwelling dogs were more complicated.
The vets claim this could reflect the variety of lifestyles and exposures among city dogs, as swimming in rivers was found to be a weak risk factor.
Professor Avison said: ‘Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are everywhere, but some antibiotics are considered critically important for use in humans.
‘We have shown that dogs fed raw meat are more likely to carry bacteria resistant to these important medicines.
‘This doesn’t mean that the animal, or the owner, will become sick.
‘E. coli is a widespread bacterium that is found in the intestines of all humans and animals.
‘However it is a common cause of many diseases 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, the researchers concluded that raw feeding is associated with carriage of antibiotic resistant E. coli in the faeces of dogs as young as 16 weeks, regardless of the length of time spent on the diet (stock image)
Results of a study of 16-week-old puppies and their owners, and associations with risk factors for carriage of E. coli resistant to at least one test antibiotic
These results support those obtained in another study that was published last month in the journal One Health.
The team recruited 223 16-week-old puppies and their owners for similar risk factor and faecal sample analyses.
They concluded that raw feeding is associated with carriage of antibiotic resistant E. coli in young dogs, regardless of the length of time spent on the diet.
It was also found that the bacteria carried by puppies are shared with humans.
Kristen Reyher, co-author and Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Population Health at the Bristol Veterinary School, said: ‘We know humans and animals share bacteria with one another, so what we find in your pet may well also be in you.
‘Pet owners should be encouraged to practice good hygiene and not feeding raw food to your dog can be part of this,
‘We can all do our part to decrease antibiotic resistance and its terrible effects on both human and animal health.’
How fashionable raw meat dog food could see pet owners risk suffering dangerous bugs including E.coli when ‘kissing’ their pooches after eating
Raw pet food is said to be similar to a dog’s natural diet if they were in the wild, and is claimed to give them fresher breath and a shinier coat.
But a study has found the food, made mainly from offal, uncooked meat and bones, contains food poisoning bugs including E.coli and salmonella.
Scientists say this may be harmful for elderly people, babies and people with poor immunity, who could fall ill by handling food bowls or kitchen equipment, or from their dog licking their face.
The research, published in the Veterinary Record journal, looked at raw dog food made by 10 different manufacturers, based in countries including Britain and Sweden.
Researchers found a third of the 60 samples they took contained E.coli, with almost a third containing another bug, Clostridium perfringens, known to cause outbreaks of food poisoning. Salmonella was found in seven per cent of samples.