Raw Meat Diets Are Dangerous For Pets, Scientists Warn

News flash: The meat you buy wrapped in plastic is not the same thing as meat your dog might find in the wild. And scientists want you to know that feeding Fido a raw hunk of store-bought steak could put his life at risk from hidden bacteria and pathogens lurking inside.

The raw food trend is the newest craze amongst pet owners. With similar sentiments as people who refuse to feed themselves anything but raw food, proponents brag that the raw pet foods are a "more natural" alternative to processed pellets and treats.

The raw foods are sold frozen, consisting of meat, bones, and organs that are then thawed and fed to dogs and cats. The idea is that by eliminating toxins and other problematic aspects of typical pet food, owners can combat their pets' allergies and other medical dilemmas.

But researchers disagree, pushing back that there is no real evidence to suggest that pets' health could benefit from eating raw foods. On the contrary, feeding pets the raw meats can cause dental problems, gut injuries (ouch), and growth problems from nutrient deficiencies. There's a reason processed pet foods are fortified with micronutrients: Pets need them.

The newest evidence against raw food diets is even more disturbing. The raw food sold for pets' consumption is infested with deadly pathogens.

A group of researchers from the Netherlands analyzed samples from 35 raw meat pet products from eight different brands. They found that 23 percent of these products were contaminated with a type of E. coli that can cause renal failure in humans. Even worse, 80 percent of products contained antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli.

The research revealed other concerning toxins, as well. More than half had listeria, 20 percent had salmonella, and 29 percent had other dangerous bacteria.

Just because you freeze the bacteria doesn't mean that they go away — the Dutch researchers were horrified. Nearly half the pet owners in the Netherlands feed their animals raw foods.

If you care about your pet's health at all, scientists advise you keep feeding them the dry stuff — or stick to meat that's been cooked. Your pet does not need raw food to live its best life. We recommend you worry about your pet's health by feeding it these safer superfoods instead.