Boffins have warned antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” could be linked to an unlikely source – our dogs.
Bacteria has been identified in some forms of raw dog food, with fears its recent uptake in popularity could fuel the spread of dangerous germs.
Such germs can ultimately turn everyday infections deadly, TeamDogs reports.
The study from the University of Porto in Portugal examined 55 samples of dog food from 25 brands – including 14 raw frozen types – looking for Enterococci bacteria.
The results found that all raw dog food samples contained antibiotic resistant-bacteria, and suggested a potential link between raw meat diets for dogs and drug-resistant bacteria.
The World Health Organisation classes such antibiotic resistance as one of the greatest public health threats facing humanity around the world.
“The close contact of humans with dogs and the commercialisation of the studied brands in different countries poses an international health risk,” The Guardian reports researcher Ana Freitas said.
“European authorities must raise awareness about the potential health risks when feeding raw diets to pets and the manufacture of dog food, including ingredient selection and hygiene practices, must be reviewed.”
But the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) has moved to provide “reassurance” to UK dog owners.
It said the study concerned products from the Portuguese market and “as with all commercially prepared pet foods, commercially prepared raw foods are subject to stringent legislation and require various tests to ensure they are safe”.
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It added: “PFMA commercial raw members manufacture their diets in line with best practice guidelines, which have been developed in conjunction with Defra, the Animal Plant and Health Agency, Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency.”
While it carries no greater risk than handling fresh raw meat intended for humans, pet owners must be dedicated to good hygiene practices in the home and maintain high standards of hygiene to prevent contamination, the PFMA advises.
Careful storage, handling and good hygiene practices when preparing and feeding a raw meat diet are vital.
The PFMA encourages pet owners handling raw dog food to read the following hygiene and handling tips:
Purchase products that are in good condition. You should see no visible signs of damage to the packaging such as dents, tears, discolorations.
Wash your hands with hot water and soap after handling either your pet or their food and its packaging.
Immediately after each use, wash and disinfect all surfaces, dishes and utensils that have been in contact with raw food.
Remove and carefully dispose of any uneaten raw pet food, as soon as your pet has finished eating.
Clean and disinfect your pet’s feeding area as soon as your pet has finished eating.