Raw Meat Diets 6/6/06

Feeding raw meat diets to high performance dogs such as greyhounds and sled dogs has been a common practice for some time.  Recently, feeding raw meat diets has become popular with owners of pet dogs.  The proponents of these diets believe the dogs feel better, have more energy and less disease.  However, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support these claims.  The concern about these diets is the bacterial contamination in these foods.  Although the people who sell the raw food diets indicate bacterial contamination is not important in most dogs, it is possible it could cause a problem in pets as well as their human owners.

To determine the actual contamination of these raw meat diets, the staff at Colorado State University in conjunction with the USDA evaluated 21 commercially available raw meat diets from three different retail stores.  All diets were stored frozen until evaluated.  The study revealed 53% of the diets contained e. coli, which can cause severe intestinal problems in dogs and humans.  This is the same bacteria that usually cause illness in humans who eat undercooked hamburgers. Salmonella, another bacteria that causes intestinal disease, was also found in 5.9% of the samples.  Although the federal government regulates processing of meat for human consumption, these laws do not apply to pet foods.  Ninety-nine percent of the samples had some form of bacterial contamination in this study.  Because there is no regulatory agency responsible for monitoring bacterial contamination in raw meat, milk, or eggs for pet foods, owners feeding their pets these diets should be concerned about their pets’ health as well as their own health.

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