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

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Researchers have found evidence that some raw dog foods contain bacteria that are resistant to many types of antibiotics commonly used to treat disease in humans.  Photo: Stock

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

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

To feed According to scientists, a trendy raw meat diet poses a risk to public health due to a threat from potentially dangerous superbugs.

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

But researchers have found evidence that some raw dog foods contain bacteria that are resistant to many types of antibiotics commonly used to treat disease in humans.

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

Tests on samples of 41 other dog foods, including wet foods, dry foods and treats, found that only three contained antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus, but 16 had “non-superbacterial” strains of bacteria.

Researchers have found evidence that some raw dog foods contain bacteria that are resistant to many types of antibiotics commonly used to treat disease in humans. Photo: 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 that a gene that gives bacteria resistance to another important antibiotic is passed from pets to humans.

The findings of both studies will be presented this weekend at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

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

She added: ‘Authorities need to raise awareness about the potential health risks of feeding raw foods to pets. Dog food production, including ingredient selection and hygiene practices, needs to be reviewed.”

The raw dog food samples, including uncooked salmon, chicken, turkey, lamb and beef, contained Enterococcus strains that are resistant to common antibiotics.

Tests on samples of 41 other dog foods, including wet foods, dry foods and treats, showed that only three contained antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus, but 16 had

Tests on samples of 41 other dog foods, including wet foods, dry foods and treats, found that only three contained antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus, but 16 had “non-superbacterial” strains of bacteria. Photo: 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 from the University of Lisbon found that eight of the 102 dogs tested, along with four human owners out of 126, harbored bacteria with a gene that makes the insects resistant to colistin, another “last resort” antibiotic.

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

Heidi Maskelyne, of British pet food manufacturer ProDog Raw, which carries out strict bacterial checks, said owners should choose a reputable source of pet food.

“Why would you feed your dog substandard food?” she asked.

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