Raw food superbugs

The rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs in raw pet food

superbugs in raw food

Raw food superbugs are a big problem, and something we should be raising awareness about. The rise of raw feeding in the UK has been quite drastic over the last few years. We wrote an article explaining why we don’t feed raw, which you can read here.  

One of the reasons we choose not to feed raw is because of the risk of bacteria and parasites. In recent years there have been multiple cases of Bovine TB, e-coli, salmonella and campylobacter infections, in both pets and humans, directly caused by raw feeding. Pets have died, and humans have died. 

This is an even greater issue where the meat used is categorised as not fit for human consumption, because then it does not need to meet the same standards as human grade meat. But even when human grade meat is used, there are multiple documented cases of bacterial infections caused by raw feeding. 

Remember: bacteria on raw meat eaten by your cat or dog will be in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract, in their faeces, their litter tray, on their paws, around their mouth, on their tongue and on anything that they then lick or stand on, including their fur and you. The bacteria will then be on anything that comes into contact with those areas as well - your floor, your sofa, your bed. 

salmonella raw food superbugs

Raw food superbugs: antibiotic resistant bacteria in raw food

An even more concerning pattern is starting to emerge now: antibiotic resistant bacteria, or superbugs, are being found in raw pet food. 

There is an antibiotic crisis on the way. Antibiotics were first developed around 1928, which is relatively recently in the history of the world. But no new class of antibiotic has been discovered for over 30 years now. Antibiotics have turned deadly bugs into easily treatable conditions that we no longer bat an eyelid over, but less than 100 years ago these conditions killed huge numbers of people. 

Unfortunately antibiotics have been overused - for both medical purposes and largely for farming. Antibiotics have allowed farming to become far more profitable, and for more animals to be reared in smaller spaces, by reducing the rates of infection. 

Antibiotic resistance

The inevitable consequence of this is that bacteria have evolved, and they are becoming resistant to antibiotics. The World Health Organisation have highlighted this as a huge area of concern. The current COVID pandemic will pale into insignificance when our antibiotics fail. Already, superbugs are causing 35,000 deaths in the USA alone every single year. This problem is only going to get worse. 

Unfortunately these antibiotic resistant bacteria are therefore on meat, and when we give raw food to our pets we risk infecting them, and ourselves, with these resistant bacteria. 

Raw food superbugs: the facts

In a recent study by Schmidt and Williams, 190 dogs were tested. Of those fed raw food, 31% of them carried antibiotic resistant Salmonella and E-coli (compared to just 4% of the dogs that had cooked meat diets). This is a huge and significant difference - more than a 700% increase. 

Unfortunately the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria will only increase over time, as the bacteria continue to evolve and become even more 'super' superbugs. Raw feeding is now contributing to the rise of these superbugs. Be aware of this if you are choosing to raw feed. 

The quality of pet food has increased drastically in the last few years. There is now so much choice available, and so many good quality, high meat content foods available. Consider some of those before opting for raw. Or lightly cook your raw food before giving it to your pet. If you do choose to feed raw, do your research and guard yourself and your family against the risks that it will create. If you have anyone in your house or your close social circle who is pregnant, young, elderly or in any way immune-suppressed please do not feed raw. 

Please note: contrary to popular belief, freezing meat does not kill all of the bacteria (it will kill some, but not all of it, and the meat remains contaminated and unsafe).

It is recommended that no household that has immunosuppressed, young or elderly members should ever feed their pet raw meat. 

The rise of raw food superbugs in raw pet food is an additional reason for caution. Please think carefully and do your own research before believing the hype about raw feeding. 

We are expert British Shorthair breeders. Our articles are the combination of years of experience, and hours of research. We stay on top of the updates in veterinary science, husbandry and genetics, so that we can make sure we raise our kittens in the best possible way.