July 23, 2024

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Feeding Dogs Raw Meat Linked to Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Transmission to Humans

Feeding Dogs Raw Meat Linked to Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Transmission to Humans

Feeding Dogs Raw Meat Linked to Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Transmission to Humans, Study Finds

A recent study has revealed that feeding dogs raw meat may increase the risk of them excreting antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli), raising the possibility of transmitting these bacteria to dog owners and others. This could potentially lead to difficult-to-treat infections.

Feeding Dogs Raw Meat Linked to Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Transmission to Humans

The primary cause of antibiotic resistance is the overuse of antibiotics. The more antibiotics we use, the greater the chance bacteria develop resistance to them. Fluoroquinolones are a broad-spectrum class of antibiotics used in both humans and veterinary medicine. However, their widespread use has led to an increase in resistance, prompting efforts to reduce their usage in various situations.

Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK has found that feeding dogs raw meat increases the risk of them excreting fluoroquinolone-resistant E. coli.

“Our goal is not to focus on raw dog food but to investigate why dogs are more likely to excrete antibiotic-resistant E. coli in their feces,” said the study’s lead author, Jordan Sealey. “Our research indicates a close association between excretion of ciprofloxacin-resistant E. coli and feeding dogs a raw diet.”

E. coli is present in the intestines of both humans and animals. Poor hygiene conditions or the consumption of food contaminated with feces, including raw meat, can lead to the transmission of E. coli between humans and animals. This bacterium can cause diarrhea and food poisoning and can also result in more severe diseases such as urinary and bloodstream infections in humans. Moreover, it can survive in the intestines for several years without causing infection.

Researchers recruited 600 healthy adult dogs, collected their fecal samples, and tested them to determine if the E. coli present was resistant to ciprofloxacin. Additionally, the dogs’ owners filled out a questionnaire providing detailed information about their dogs, their diets, the environments in which they walk, and whether the dogs had received antibiotic treatment.

Ciprofloxacin-resistant E. coli was detected in the feces of 7.3% of rural dogs and 11.8% of urban dogs. Analysis of these samples indicated a significant correlation between feeding raw meat and the excretion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, potentially serving as a pathway for resistant E. coli to enter households.

The study’s corresponding author, Matthew Avison, stated, “Whether it’s raw meat intended for human consumption after cooking or raw meat sold as pet food, it may be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant E. coli. Cooking can kill the bacteria, and proper hand hygiene can reduce the direct risk of these bacteria being swallowed and entering the human gut.”

The researchers emphasized that the risk is not only associated with dog feces but also with the handling of raw meat when preparing food for pets.

Avison added, “Choosing to feed dogs raw meat means a person is almost certainly going to handle raw meat, and our research clearly indicates that feeding raw meat also means pet owners are likely to be dealing with pets excreting E. coli.”

They provided recommendations to avoid bacterial contamination, suggesting alternatives such as non-raw diets or purchasing high-quality raw meat that can be cooked. Most raw food sold for dogs is of poor quality and can cause serious harm to the dog’s health if cooked.

This aligns with the policy of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which discourages feeding “any raw animal-source protein that has not undergone a process to eliminate pathogens, because it could pose a risk to pets and people.”

When deciding whether to feed pets raw meat, it is crucial to consider its source. Animals slaughtered at abattoirs provide meat for human consumption, while processed meat for pets may come from dead, diseased, dying, or disabled animals.

Avison concluded, “As one of the measures in response to the emerging antibiotic resistance crisis, companies entering the raw dog food industry should be further encouraged to source meat from farms implementing appropriate antibiotic use policies and conduct antibiotic resistance testing on meat before sale. Stricter limits on the allowable bacterial count in untreated meat sold for consumption should be set compared to cooked meat.”

This research was published in the journal “One Health.”

Feeding Dogs Raw Meat Linked to Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Transmission to Humans

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