Warning issued to dog owners over a common type of food that could cause E.coli in your


Pet owners have been warned over feeding their dogs raw meat after a study found pooches who typically ate such foods showed greater signs of developing E.coli.

Research conducted by the University of Bristol found that giving dogs raw meat led to an increased presence of an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria in their faeces. 

The study, which was conducted on 600 healthy pet dogs, concluded that owners should consider switching to a non-raw food diet for their beloved pooches.

Alternatively it suggested owners should cook meat before feeding it to their dogs, or source the best possible quality meat if they wanted to feed it to their pooches in its raw form. 

They also noted that good hand hygiene greatly reduces the immediate risk of E. coli being ingested. The authors of the report called on the raw dog food industry to source meat from farms with more stringent antibiotic policies.

E. coli, which can cause food poisoning, is the UK’s most common cause of urinary tract and bloodstream infections, which can be life-threatening. 

A cute beagle puppy eating out of a bowl (stock image)

A cute beagle puppy eating out of a bowl (stock image)

A particularly concerning finding in the study was that the strain of E.coli detected appeared resistant to ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic used to treat a range of bacterial infections in humans and animals. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classes these antibiotics of critical importance and a high priority.

The findings read: ‘This study confirms that uncooked meat carries multiple resistant E.Coli commonly including resistance to critically important antibiotics important for human health’.

Matthew Avison, Professor of Molecular Bacteriology in 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 with antibiotic-resistant E. coli. 

‘Cooking kills the bacteria and good hand hygiene reduces the immediate risk of these bacteria being swallowed and getting into a person’s intestines’. 

Professor Avison concluded: ‘As part of our response to the emerging crisis of antibiotic resistance, further incentive should be given to companies joining the raw dog food industry to source meat from farms with appropriate antibiotic usage policies, and to test meat for resistant bacteria before selling. 

‘Stricter limits should be set on the numbers of bacteria allowed in meat that is sold to be eaten uncooked than in meat sold to be cooked prior to eating’.

A stock image showing E.coli bacteria, which has been found in the meat surveyed by the University of Bristol

A stock image showing E.coli bacteria, which has been found in the meat surveyed by the University of Bristol 

Dr Jordan Sealey, Research Associate in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM), who carried out the research, said: ‘Our aim was not to focus on raw dog food, but to investigate what might make a dog more likely to excrete resistant E. coli in its faeces. 

‘Our study found a very strong association between excreting ciprofloxacin-resistant E. coli and feeding dogs a raw food diet’.

He added: ‘Individual measures to reduce the risk of resistant bacteria being excreted by dogs include changing to a non-raw food diet or sourcing good quality raw meat that can be cooked, and then cooking it. 

‘Most raw food sold for consumption by dogs is not of a quality that can be cooked, and can cause 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 with very low usage of critically important antibiotics in farming, may also decrease the risk of them eating resistant bacteria with their dinner.’





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