Raw-meat dog food 'risk to owners'

Many raw-meat dog foods contain high levels of bacteria that pose a risk to animals and humans, experts warn.

Owners are at particular risk if they let their pet lick them after it has eaten raw bone, meat or offal, they say in Vet Record.

The diets are becoming increasingly popular, touted by some as offering pets a health boost and a glossy coat.

The researchers studied 60 raw samples from 10 manufacturers from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany and England.

Give a dog a bone?

Unlike commercial feeds, raw-meat products are not heat-treated or freeze-dried to pasteurise their content and eliminate bacteria.

All 60 samples contained Enterobacteriaceae species, which are indicators of faecal contamination.

Levels varied widely among the different manufacturers and, in some cases, among the different products from the same manufacturer.

But 31 (52%) of the samples contained levels that exceeded the maximum threshold set by European Union regulations, of 5,000 bacteria per gram.

Most of the species found are not known to cause infection, apart from E. coli, which was seen in about a third of the samples.