Pet owners need to be careful about diet trends that might sound like a healthy diet for pets, but could ultimately lead to sickness or even death for their beloved dogs or cats. Raw food pet diets are one of those dangerous trends that makes its way into the public eye every decade or so. It sounds like it would be a healthy alternative to mass-produced canine and feline diets, taking our pets back to their “wild” roots and feeding them foods that are more like what they might eat if they weren’t domesticated. Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth wants the very best of health for our patients and clients, which is why we are addressing this issue today.
The primary issue with this type of diet is the spread of foodborne illnesses. Compared to other types of pet food that were tested in a two year-long study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, raw pet food diets were more likely to be contaminated with deadly bacteria, such as salmonella and listeria. Another concern is proper nutrition, as many of these single-source or limited-source diets do not give our animals a wide enough variety of vitamins, minerals and the things they need in a healthy diet for pets to thrive.
How Can You Prevent Foodborne Illness?
Regardless of the type of food that you feed to your pet – or to your family – there is always a chance for the spread of bacteria that can lead to sickness with a foodborne illness. However, when it comes to raw pet food diets, the chances for the presence and spread of this bacteria increase by a wide margin.
To prevent foodborne illness, it is important to follow some common sense rules in the kitchen whenever you are preparing, handling or even storing pet food:
- Always wash your hands with warm water and soap BEFORE handling food.
- Always wash your hands with warm water and soap AFTER handling food or touching any objects, surfaces or other items that may have come in contact with the food.
- Take time to disinfect all objects and surfaces that may have come in contact with the food using hot, soapy water and follow it up with a disinfectant. If you don’t want to purchase a commercial disinfectant, you can always use a mixture of 4 cups water to 1 Tablespoon of bleach.
- Know the difference between disinfecting and cleaning. Cleaning removes germs, but doesn’t kill them, while disinfecting kills germs, but doesn’t clean the surface. This is why it is recommended that you do both steps.
Why is the Study is Important?
The study that was conducted by the Food and Drug Administration was important because it tested over a thousand samples of popular pet food, including raw pet food diets and commonly used health diet for pets. Pet owners need to be aware of what they are feeding their pets and what steps they can take to ensure that their pet does not become sick from eating contaminated or dangerous foods. Because the raw pet food diets are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria that can cause sickness and disease, the Center for Veterinary Medicine and countless veterinarians across the country are recommending that pet owners not feed this to their pets.
The raw pet food diets that were tested came in packaging that made them seem safe. They came from a variety of online stores and were made by a variety of different manufacturers. The products were shipped directly to six independent laboratories that participated in this study. The packaging used for these raw pet food diets was typically a tube-like plastic container and the foods arrived frozen, made from ground meats and sausages.
The laboratories tested for different types of harmful bacteria, which included listeria and salmonella. The results showed that a large percentage of the raw pet diets tested positive for the pathogen known as Listeria monocytogenes. Out of 196 samples of raw pet food diets that were tested, 15 tested positive for salmonella, while another 32 tested positive for listeria. Compared to dry and semi-moist dog, cat and exotic pet food samples that were also tested in the study, those figures are extremely high. In fact, only one of the other 860 samples that were tested, a type of dry cat food, was positive for harmful bacteria.
What Do These Results Mean?
To summarize the results of this study, what it means is that dry pet food is much safer and a better choice of healthy diet for pets than the raw pet food diets. If you truly want to protect your pet and prevent foodborne illness from spreading around your home, you will avoid following this trend of raw pet food diets. The study also revealed that owners who feed the raw diet to their pets had a higher risk of becoming infected with listeria or salmonella themselves. These illnesses can be extremely dangerous to both pets and people, meaning they should be avoided at all costs.
The best thing you can do to prevent foodborne illness in your pets from raw pet food diets is to not feed them raw pet food in the first place. If you have any question about how to choose the best healthy diet for pets or are concerned that your pet might have contracted a bacterial illness from contaminated pet food, contact Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. Local pet owners have counted on the knowledge and experience of the caring and loving staff at Anchor Animal Hospital since 1975. Regular check-ups, emergency care, dentistry, pain management, surgery and more are all available to local pet owners at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth.