Feeding dogs raw (uncooked) meat increases their risk of shedding E. coli which cannot be killed by a widely used antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, researchers at the University of Bristol have found from a study of 600 healthy pet dogs.
E. coli, which can cause food poisoning, is also the most common cause of urinary tract and blood infections in the UK, which can be life-threatening. Ciprofloxacin belongs to a group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, used to treat various bacterial infections in humans and animals. The World Health Organization classifies these antibiotics among the highest priority antibiotics of critical importance.
The study, published in One health, looked for the presence of E. ciprofloxacin-resistant coli in the intestines of 600 healthy pet dogs. The research team asked dog owners to complete a survey providing details about their dog, its diet, the environments it walked in and whether it had been treated with antibiotics.
The microbiological data together with the survey data allowed a statistical analysis, which showed that feeding raw meat to dogs was the only significant risk factor associated with the shedding of these resistant bacteria in the dog’s feces. This work supports other published studies demonstrating associations between dogs fed raw meat and E. coli shedding. resistant coli.
In the United Kingdom, reductions in the use of ciprofloxacin by general practitioners have led to a decrease in ciprofloxacin resistance in E. coli from human infections. There has also been an almost complete halt to the use of fluoroquinolones to treat farm animals in the UK. However, fluoroquinolone use and resistance remain at very high levels worldwide.
Dr Jordan Sealey, research associate at the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM), who led the research, said: “Our goal was not to focus on raw dog food, but to to study what might make a dog more likely to eat raw food. “Shed resistant E. coli in their stool. Our study found a very strong association between shedding of ciprofloxacin-resistant E. coli and feeding dogs a raw diet.”
Matthew Avison, professor of molecular bacteriology at CMM, who led the study, explained: “Raw meat, whether intended for human consumption after cooking or sold as raw dog food, is likely to be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant E. coli. Cooking kills. bacteria and good hand hygiene reduce the immediate risk of these bacteria being swallowed and entering a person’s intestines.
“Choosing to feed a dog raw meat means that a person almost certainly has to handle the raw meat, and our research clearly shows that feeding raw also means that pet owners are likely to interact with a pet which excretes resistant E. coli.”
Dr Sealey added: “Individual measures to reduce the risk of dogs shedding resistant bacteria include switching to a non-raw diet or providing good quality raw meat that can be cooked and then cooking. Most raw foods sold for consumption. by dogs is not of a quality that can be cooked and may pose a serious health hazard to dogs if cooked.
“Choosing to feed a dog meat from animals raised on farms in the UK or other countries where the use of critically important antibiotics in agriculture is very low, can also reduce the risk of him eating resistant bacteria with his dinner.”
Professor Avison concluded: “As part of our response to the emerging antibiotic resistance crisis, additional incentives should be given to companies joining the raw dog food industry to source their meat from farms with appropriate antibiotic use policies and that they test meat for resistant bacteria before Stricter limits should be set on the number of bacteria allowed in meat sold for consumption raw than in meat meat sold to be cooked before consumption.
E. coli is quite normally found in the intestines of people and animals and can be transmitted between them, usually due to poor household hygiene, for example after using the toilet or handling food contaminated with feces , including uncooked meat. When dogs shed resistant bacteria into the environment and the home, these bacteria are at risk of being transmitted to their owners and other people.
Once a person swallows E. coli, these bacteria can stay in their intestines for years before causing an infection. There are hundreds of thousands of urinary tract infections caused by E. coli in the UK each year, as well as thousands of bloodstream infections which often lead to life-threatening sepsis. When E. coli is resistant to important antibiotics like ciprofloxacin, infections are harder to treat, meaning patients are more likely to be hospitalized and die.
Jordan E. Sealey et al, Unique transmission of fluoroquinolone-resistant Escherichia coli and risk factors for their shedding from dogs living in nearby urban and rural areas, One health (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.onehlt.2023.100640
Provided by University of Bristol
Quote: Feeding dogs raw meat increases the risk of E. coli resistant to antibiotics, according to a study (November 20, 2023) retrieved November 20, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-11-dogs-raw-meat-antibiotic-résistant-coli.html
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