Raw-food-based diets for dogs could pose an “international public health risk” due to the high levels of numerous drug-resistant bacteria, scientists have warned. These statistics are shocking at such a crucial time when a pandemic has changed our way of life forever.

*Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s ECCMID (European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases) planned for Paris from 18-21 April had to be cancelled.

2 labradors eating raw meat off a plate

However, the congress organisers  decided to publish an abstracts book containing the studies that would have been presented as the information was too important not to be seen at this crucial time*

One study revealed how a raw-type dog food contains high levels of multidrug-resistant bacteria, including those resistant to vital last-line antibiotics.

In the study, the authors analysed bacteria obtained from processed (both dry and wet types) and non-processed (raw-frozen) foods of the main brands including 46 samples (22 wet, 15 dry, 9 raw-frozen) from 24 international brands, sourced from 8 supermarkets and one veterinary clinic.

Raw-frozen samples were mainly made up of salmon, chicken, turkey, calf, deer or duck, being a mixture of different meat types, fruits and vegetables. The bacterial samples were cultured and then tested with a range of antibiotics.

The harmful bacteria Enterococci were identified in 19/46 (41%) of the samples. They were found in eight of 15 (53%) in the dry foods; 2 of 22 (9%) of the wet samples, and 9 of 9 (100%) in the raw-frozen samples, and identified as the Enterococcus species E. faecium, E. faecalis or other species.

All nine raw meat samples carried multidrug-resistant enterococci, including those resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, while only one multidrug-resistant bacteria was detected in one of the wet food samples and none in the dry food samples.

Resistance was found to the antibiotics ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, tetracycline, streptomycin and chloramphenicol in all 9 raw-type samples.

The authors concluded: “Our study demonstrates that raw-frozen-foods for dogs carry multidrug-resistant enterococci, (which are resistant to) last-line antibiotics (linezolid) for the treatment of human infections.

“The close contact of pets with humans and the commercialisation of the studied brands in different EU countries pose an international public health risk if transmission of such strains occurs between dogs and humans.

“There is strong past and recent evidence that dogs and humans share common multidrug-resistant strains of E. faecium, and thus the potential for these strains to be transmitted to humans from dogs.”

Dr Freitas adds: “These raw-frozen foods are supposed to be consumed after being thawed and could at least be cooked, to kill these drug-resistant and other bacteria. Although these foods seem to be regulated regarding their microbiological safety by EU authorities, risk assessment of biological hazards should also include antibiotic-resistant bacteria and/or genes besides only establishing the presence of bacterial pathogens, such as Salmonella.”


“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
Margaret Mead

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