Dogs fed raw meat diets are more likely to have a Salmonella and antimicrobial-resistant E. coli faecal carriage by Dr Vanessa Schmidt and colleagues at the University of Liverpool

Raw meat diets have become increasingly popular for dogs in recent years, but their health impacts continue to generate debate amongst the veterinary profession, pet owners, and commercial food producers. Newly published research has demonstrated that UK dogs eating raw meat diets are more likely to have Salmonella and antimicrobial-resistant E. coli in their faeces than those fed a non-raw diet.

The study findings are now in print in the June issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP). The work investigated the prevalence of the enteric pathogen Salmonella and AMR (antimicrobial resistant) E. coli in the faeces of dogs fed on raw and non-raw diets in the UK. It also sought to determine risk factors for the presence of these bacteria.

A total of 190 faecal samples were collected from dogs from 140 households (114 samples from raw-fed dogs and 76 from non-raw-fed dogs). Salmonella species were detected in four percent of the samples (all raw-fed) and AMR E. coli was detected in 62 percent of raw-fed dogs with only 13 percent of non-raw-fed dogs.

Statistical analysis confirmed that dogs fed raw food diets had 7.5 times the odds of having MDR (multi-drug resistant), more than 14.5 times the odds of having 3GCR (third generation cephalosporin-resistant), and more than 6 times the odds of having AMR (resistance to at least one tested antimicrobial) E. coli in their faeces than dogs fed non-raw diets.

The authors conclude that strategies should be implemented to increase the awareness of the risks of feeding raw meat diets to dogs, to reduce any potential risk to owners, their families, and their pets.

Nicola Di Girolamo, Editor of JSAP says: “In this study, an association between raw meat diets in dogs and faecal carriage of potentially dangerous enteric bacteria has been observed. The readers should keep in mind that cross-sectional studies such as this one lay the basis for additional research more suited to prove causality.”

Corresponding author, Vanessa Schmidt, finishes: “This study presents evidence of increased risk of pathogens, including those associated with antimicrobial resistance, in the faeces of dogs eating raw compared to non-raw diets. We hope that this information can assist veterinary surgeons when advising clients about their dog’s diet.”

The project, funded by a BSAVA PetSavers 40th Anniversary student research grant, was carried out by Ellyn Groat under the supervision of Dr. Vanessa Schmidt at the University of Liverpool.

Read the full open access article here: