Weighty issues on dog food safety

People are becoming more aware of what they put into their mouths and shifting from processed foods to natural and home-made foods. As for themselves they are more inclined to give their pet dogs these natural foods as well and are leaning towards a “raw meat” diet. These are often combined with pre-prepared foods that can be easily frozen and reheated for convenience.

There is a new study that raises concerns over these raw meat based diets for dogs warning against parasitic and bacterial infections that could be acquired from these foods. The researchers state that there is little evidence that these raw meat based diets are better than processed dog foods. There are concerns about the adequacy of nutrition provided by these foods and diets compared to traditional processed diets. They explain that these domesticated dogs have evolved from their wild ancestors and so have their digestion. While earlier their digestive systems could survive of discarded foods and wastes from human settlements, these modern human companions cannot. Homemade foods, scraps off the table, as well as raw meat, were good and healthy enough for dogs then. Now however pet foods are made in specific manner to include the nutrients that the dog needs for growth and health.

In a recent study that appeared in the journal Veterinary Record, where the team of researchers looked at 35 samples of frozen raw meat products from eight different brands. Among these they noted bacteria such as E. coli in 28 samples, Listeria monocytogenes in 19 samples and Salmonella species in seven samples. They also noted parasites among several samples that were tested. There have been reports of similar kind when samples were analyzed in other countries such as Canada and New Zealand and in North America.

Researchers add that there are no studies that compare the safety of these brands with raw meat from the butchers. They noted that while many of these bacteria cannot cause illness or infection in the dogs that consume them, the dogs can act as carriers of these bacteria and pass them on to their human companions. They add that these bacteria that are found in the food samples are often resistant to traditional antibiotics. This can be a significant worry both for the pets as well as for the human companions of the pets. These infections would be difficult to treat they explain.

The experts warn that same standards of storage and safety as is observed for human foods need to be observed for pet foods. This includes washing hands and surfaces on which food is prepared and served thoroughly and freeze and store foods correctly. Foods should be separately stored and prepared to avoid cross contamination. All frozen foods should be defrosted within the fridge at the lower shelves they add. Pet food plates and bowls too need special care. These precautions would help prevent infections among the pets and in turn prevent their spread to the humans. Bacteria and parasites can also spread via toys, floor and surfaces.

Source: http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/182/2/50

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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