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Raw food diets for dogs could pose a risk to public health

Raw food diets for dogs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Raw food diets for dogs have always been a topic of hot debate, but now researchers are warning of an international public health risk after they discovered antibiotic-resistant superbugs hiding out in a range of raw dog food.

Collating the findings of their study in a report that will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, a team of scientists from the University of Port in Portugal found raw dog food samples to contain antibiotic-resistant Enterococci - suggesting that resistance to antibiotics could be being passed from dogs to humans.

“The trend for feeding dogs raw food may be fuelling the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria”, the researchers said in a press release for their study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now one of the “biggest public health challenges of our time”, with 700,000 people globally dying each year from antibiotic-resistant bugs that can turn common infections deadly. 

In the dog food study, researchers examined 55 samples of raw dog food from 25 different brands and found that all of them, whether frozen or unfrozen, contained antibiotic-resistant superbugs, including Enterococci, a bacteria that can live harmlessly in the intestines of humans and animals but can be dangerous if it escapes into other parts of the body.

After conducting genetic sequencing, the team discovered that some of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria they’d found in the raw dog food were the same kinds as those found in hospital patients in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands.

“The close contact of humans with dogs and the commercialisation of the studied brands in different countries poses an international public health risk,” said researcher Ana Freitas.

The team believes more awareness is needed amongst pet parents about the dangers posed to their health by feeding their dog a raw food diet. If you decide that the benefits of raw dog food outweigh the risks, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw food and disposing of feces.

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer with a passion for creating health and wellness, travel and wildlife content. Originally from New Zealand, her nomadic lifestyle has her currently fur baby-less. She scratches her pet parent itch by stealing frequent cuddles with any neighbourhood cat kind enough to indulge her.