Superbugs discovered in raw dog food pose ‘a public health risk’, warn scientists


Superbugs discovered in raw dog food pose ‘a public health risk’, warn scientists

  • Researchers uncovered evidence that some raw dog food products contain bacteria resistant to many types of antibiotics commonly used to treat illness 
  • All 14 samples of food tested contained drug-resistant forms of Enterococcus
  • Only 3 of 41 other dog foods, including wet food, dry food and treats, included

Feeding dogs a trendy raw meat diet poses a public health risk due to a threat from potentially dangerous superbugs, according to scientists.

Giving uncooked meat to pets has grown in popularity because owners believe it mimics a natural canine diet and is better than cooked or processed pet food. 

But researchers have uncovered evidence that some raw dog food products contain bacteria resistant to many types of antibiotics commonly used to treat illness in humans.

All 14 samples of raw dog food tested contained drug-resistant forms of Enterococcus, a type of bacteria found in animals’ intestines. 

Tests on samples of 41 other dog foods, including wet food, dry food and treats, found only three contained antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus, but 16 had ‘non-superbug’ strains of the bacteria.

Researchers have uncovered evidence that some raw dog food products contain bacteria resistant to many types of antibiotics commonly used to treat illness in humans. Picture: Stock

Normally harmless if confined to the gut, Enterococcus can wreak havoc in other parts of the human body, even causing sepsis.

In a separate study, scientists found a gene giving bacteria resistance to another important antibiotic is being passed from pets to humans. 

The findings from both studies are being presented this weekend to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Dr Ana Freitas, of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Porto University in Portugal, who led the dog food research, said: ‘The close contact of humans and dogs… poses an international public health risk.’

She added: ‘The authorities must raise awareness about the potential health risks when feeding raw diets to pets. The manufacture of dog food, including ingredient selection and hygiene practices, must be reviewed.’

The samples of raw dog food, which included uncooked salmon, chicken, turkey, lamb and beef, had strains of Enterococcus that are resistant to common antibiotics.

Tests on samples of 41 other dog foods, including wet food, dry food and treats, found only three contained antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus, but 16 had ¿non-superbug¿ strains of the bacteria. Picture: Stock

Tests on samples of 41 other dog foods, including wet food, dry food and treats, found only three contained antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus, but 16 had ‘non-superbug’ strains of the bacteria. Picture: Stock

Nearly a quarter were resistant to linezolid, a ‘last resort’ antibiotic often used only when other drugs have failed. 

The raw samples tested were from two unnamed brands of dog food sold in Portugal.

Meanwhile, vets at Lisbon University found that eight dogs out of 102 tested, along with four human owners out of 126, harboured bacteria with a gene that makes the bugs resistant to colistin, another ‘last resort’ antibiotic. 

That means that pets might act as ‘reservoirs’ of the gene and spread resistance to colistin.

Heidi Maskelyne, of British pet-food maker ProDog Raw, which undertakes rigorous bacterial checks, said owners must choose a reputable source for pet food. 

‘Why would you feed substandard food to your dog?’ she asked.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk