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Pet owners 'putting their cats and dogs at risk by feeding them trendy raw, homemade and vegan food'

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Pet owners ‘putting their cats and dogs at risk by feeding them trendy raw, homemade and vegan food’

  • Homemade, vegan and vegetarian meals raise risk of antibiotic resistance
  • But diets are on trend, with many owners choosing them over regular pet foods
  • One in five dogs and one in 20 cats receive a solely vegan or vegetarian diet 

Pet owners are putting their cats and dogs at risk of infection by feeding them homemade, raw, vegetarian and vegan diets, a scientist has warned.

The DIY meals – which unlike shop-bought foods are not boiled to kill harmful organisms – also risk spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria. 

But a study of pet meals found more owners are looking to feed their beloved family members ‘unconventional’ foods mirroring trends in human diets.

And a survey of 3,100 pet owners revealed one in five dogs and one in 20 cats are already fed a solely vegan or vegetarian diet by their owners. 

Pet owners are putting their cats and dogs at risk of infection and spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria by feeding them homemade, raw, vegetarian and vegan foods (stock)

Pet owners are putting their cats and dogs at risk of infection and spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria by feeding them homemade, raw, vegetarian and vegan foods (stock)

Study author Dr Sarah Dodd, from the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College in Canada, said: ‘These “unconventional” diets may help nurture the bond between pets and their owners, but they may also be storing up health problems for these animals.

‘Avoidance of conventional pet foods in favour of home-made and raw food products may put the health of dogs and cats at risk.

‘Home-made raw food diets pose an additional risk of infection in the absence of chemical or heat treatment steps to kill potentially harmful bacteria.

‘(They could also) act as a potential reservoir of antibiotic resistant microbes which can be passed on to people.’

For the study, published in journal Vet Record, scientists trawled research published between 2008 and 2018 on feeding practices for domestic cats and dogs to determine whether there had been a shift.

They identified nine studies which suggested shoppers are turning away from shop-bought pet foods, particularly as the sole diet, in favour of home-made alternatives. 

A survey found that one in five dogs and one in 20 cats are already being fed on a solely vegan or vegetarian diet by their owners (stock image)

A survey found that one in five dogs and one in 20 cats are already being fed on a solely vegan or vegetarian diet by their owners (stock image)

The team also sent out an online survey on pet diets to owners in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US between September 2016 and January 2017.

They received more than 3,100 responses, which revealed the diets for 1,542 cats and 2,940 dogs.

Only 13 per cent of these were exclusively fed on a conventional shop-bought diet for their main meals, while three in five dogs and two in five cats had diets that included at least some homemade food.

Britain is a nation of dog and cat lovers with half of adults owning at least one, according to figures from pet insurer PDSA. 

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