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Evaluation of bacterial and protozoal contamination of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs

Rachel A. Strohmeyer DVM, MS1, Paul S. Morley DVM, PhD, DACVIM2, Doreene R. Hyatt PhD3, David A. Dargatz DVM, DACVIM4, A. Valeria Scorza VMD, MS5, and Michael R. Lappin DVM, PhD, DACVIM6
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  • 1 Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 3 Animal Population Health Institute, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 4 USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services, Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health, 2150 Centre Avenue, Bldg B, Fort Collins, CO 80526.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 6 Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate bacterial and protozoal contamination of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs.

Design—Prospective longitudinal study.

Sample Population—240 samples from 20 raw meat diets for dogs (containing beef, lamb, chicken, or turkey), 24 samples from 2 dry dog foods, and 24 samples from 2 canned dog foods.

Procedure—Each product was purchased commercially on 4 dates approximately 2 months apart. Three samples from each product at each sampling period were evaluated via bacterial culture for non–type-specific Escherichia coli (NTSEC), Salmonella enterica, and Campylobacter spp. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing was performed on selected isolates. Polymerase chain reaction assays were used to detect DNA from Cryptosporidium spp, Neospora spp, and Toxoplasma spp in samples obtained in the third and fourth sampling periods.

Results—One hundred fifty-three of 288 (53%) samples were contaminated with NTSEC. Both raw and prepared foods contained NTSEC during at least 1 culture period. Salmonella enterica was recovered from 17 (5.9%) samples, all of which were raw meat products. Campylobacter spp was not isolated from any samples. In 91 of 288 (31.6%) samples, there was no gram-negative bacterial growth before enrichment and in 48 of 288 (16.7%) samples, there was no aerobic bacterial growth before enrichment. Susceptibility phenotypes were variable. Cryptosporidium spp DNA was detected in 3 samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Bacterial contamination is common in commercially available raw meat diets, suggesting that there is a risk of foodborne illness in dogs fed these diets as well possible risk for humans associated with the dogs or their environments.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate bacterial and protozoal contamination of commercially available raw meat diets for dogs.

Design—Prospective longitudinal study.

Sample Population—240 samples from 20 raw meat diets for dogs (containing beef, lamb, chicken, or turkey), 24 samples from 2 dry dog foods, and 24 samples from 2 canned dog foods.

Procedure—Each product was purchased commercially on 4 dates approximately 2 months apart. Three samples from each product at each sampling period were evaluated via bacterial culture for non–type-specific Escherichia coli (NTSEC), Salmonella enterica, and Campylobacter spp. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing was performed on selected isolates. Polymerase chain reaction assays were used to detect DNA from Cryptosporidium spp, Neospora spp, and Toxoplasma spp in samples obtained in the third and fourth sampling periods.

Results—One hundred fifty-three of 288 (53%) samples were contaminated with NTSEC. Both raw and prepared foods contained NTSEC during at least 1 culture period. Salmonella enterica was recovered from 17 (5.9%) samples, all of which were raw meat products. Campylobacter spp was not isolated from any samples. In 91 of 288 (31.6%) samples, there was no gram-negative bacterial growth before enrichment and in 48 of 288 (16.7%) samples, there was no aerobic bacterial growth before enrichment. Susceptibility phenotypes were variable. Cryptosporidium spp DNA was detected in 3 samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Bacterial contamination is common in commercially available raw meat diets, suggesting that there is a risk of foodborne illness in dogs fed these diets as well possible risk for humans associated with the dogs or their environments.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Morley.

Supported by the Animal Population Health Institute through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and by the James L. Voss Veterinary Medical Center, Colorado State University.

The authors thank Brandy Burgess, Jennifer Hawley, and Barbara Traut for technical assistance.