How Feeding Your Pup Raw Meat Could Actually Put Your Health At Risk

The moment your furry companion starts making puppy dog eyes at you, it's hard to resist giving them a tasty treat. However, research shows that raw meat is one such treat that should be avoided for the sake of your dog's health, as well as your own.

A new study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy looked at stool samples from more than 600 dogs in both urban and rural areas. While the presence of bacteria was detected in both groups, 20 out of the 303 rural dogs tested were found to be carrying antibiotic-resistant E. coli in relation to eating raw meat. These findings lend further evidence to the results of a previous study conducted by the same group of researchers published last month in One Health. After testing over 200 young puppies in the U.K., researchers determined a link between feeding one's dog raw meat and subsequent fecal contamination of E. coli bacteria. This was found to be true in puppies as young as 16 weeks old.

How bacterial infections can transfer from pets to humans

What does this mean for human health? The study team concluded that bacteria found in dog feces can be transferable to humans, thereby putting us at risk for E. coli infection (via One Health). "E. coli is a widespread bacterium that is found in the intestines of all humans and animals, however, it is a common cause of many diseases including urinary tract infection and can cause serious illness including sepsis if it spreads to other parts of the body," study researcher Matthew Avison explained in a press release from the University of Bristol.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) advises against feeding animals raw meat. They cite research that has shown as much as 50% of both commercially available raw meat and homemade raw meat contain pathogens. Direct contact with contaminated meat, pets, or their fecal matter can put humans at risk for infection and illness, particularly very young children, older adults, and those with compromised immunity.

For this reason, the study team emphasizes in their research the importance of practicing good pet hygiene and for pet owners to take heed of the potential health risks associated with a raw meat diet for pets.