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Barfen: Why you should stop feeding dogs raw meat

For a few years now, “barfing” has become a trend among dog owners. The term refers to feeding “B.iologically A.local R.ohen F.utters “. This means that owners only give their dogs raw food to eat. The animals should get the most natural possible diet.

However, new studies now show that feeding raw meat can be hazardous to health – not only for dogs, but also for their owners.

Juliana Menezes and Constança Pomba from the University of Lisbon examined dogs and their owners for various bacteria in 70 households. A direct search was made for a gene in the bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotic colistin. Such a gene (“mobilized colistin resistance” gene) was found in three healthy people and two dogs. That means: you are resistant to the antibiotic, it does not work on you.

Bacteria are found in raw feed

Another study shows where these multi-resistant bacteria could have come from. Ana Raquel Freitas and her team examined different types of dog food, namely wet, dry and raw meat. The researchers were able to detect a total of 163 types of enterococci in the food. The bacteria are resistant to various antibiotics, for example ampicillin, ciprofloxacin or erythromycin, which are often prescribed by doctors. But in which food were most of the bacteria found?

The result was clear: Enterococci were found in nine percent of the wet food and 53 percent of the dry food. And the researchers found the multi-resistant bacterium in 100 percent of the raw feed products.

The researchers explain: “Our study shows that raw-frozen feeds for dogs carry enterococci, which are resistant to antibiotics. Including antibiotics like linezolid. These are used to treat infections in humans. “This poses an international risk to public health. Ana Raquel Freitas recommends:” The raw foods should at least be cooked to kill these bacteria. “

A team led by Carolin Hackmann from the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the Berlin Charité is now investigating whether and how dogs transmit the bacteria to their owners.

The benefits of barf have not been scientifically proven

When baref, dogs only get raw food.

When baref, dogs only get raw food.

The barfen is a big controversy among dog owners. Those who feed their dogs raw meat want their animal to be fed as naturally as possible. Following the example of the wolf, their ancestor. They mainly feed fresh and deeply felt meat, as well as offal, bones, fish and raw vegetables. Allegedly, this diet is said to be healthier than other foods, prevent health problems and reduce body weight. However, there is no scientific evidence for any of these alleged benefits. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition therefore does not recommend barf feeding.

Professor Petra Wolf heads the Department of Nutritional Physiology and Animal Nutrition at the University of Rostock. She explains: “Unfortunately there are laypeople and half-knowing in many Internet forums who give recipes for feeding“ biologically appropriate raw feed ”without having the required knowledge. If done correctly, barf does not have any disadvantages for the diet of dogs and cats. It turns out, however, that many rations are not balanced and can then lead to health problems in the long term ”.

In particular, barf feeding can lead to malnutrition and, above all, bacterial contamination. If the bacteria are transmitted, there is a risk to humans.

Wolf explains: “Many different pathogens can be transmitted to dogs with raw meat. These include, for example, viruses, bacteria and, above all, parasites. Often it is salmonella, tapeworms and toxmoplasms. ”The latter are particularly dangerous for pregnant women if the dogs pass them on to their owners. Toxmoplasmas can cause miscarriages and deformities in humans.

A balanced diet in dogs is important

Nonetheless: “It is right to worry about feeding your dog,” says the expert. In principle, it is not wrong that owners question the composition of commercially produced feed. “Manufacturing processes destroy or damage vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and essential fatty acids.” However, this problem is well known. This is why the nutrients are often added in the same required concentration after heating, according to the veterinarian.

“Dog owners should discuss with their veterinarian what to look for in natural feeding. Because dogs need a balanced diet. ”Above all, you should make sure that your dog is getting enough nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Be aware that baref can be dangerous. Especially for children, the elderly, pregnant women and the sick.

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This article was published by in April 2019. It has now been reviewed and updated.


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