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Research comment
The trend of raw meat-based diets: risks to people and animals
  1. Barbara Hinney
  1. 1Department of Pathobiology, Institute of Parasitology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz, Vienna, Austria
  1. e-mail: barbara.hinney{at}

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The feeding of raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) to cats and especially dogs has an increasing number of followers. One argument used frequently by its proponents is that a diet similar to their pet’s wild ancestors, such as wolves and wild cats, is natural and thus healthier than canned, dry and/or cooked food.1 Another factor influencing pet owner’s interest in RMBDs may be recent food scandals resulting in owners’ mistrust of the food industry in general.

Numerous other facts and rumours about the content of canned and dry dog and cat food circulate on social media.2,3 The number of unsubstantiated claims on social media has contributed to the positive attitude of pet owners towards RMBDs. Internet forums and popular scientific books are the main source for pet owners who support and use RMBD’s for their pets. In many cases, statements found on social media have not been analysed sufficiently enough to withstand scientific scrutiny and veterinarians are rarely consulted about RMBDs by owners.3 Thus a lot of pet owners might underestimate the danger of the transmission of pathogens through RMBDs. This development is not without concern, as raw meat can be an important source of parasites, bacteria and viruses.3

There may be a number of consequences for pets, livestock and public health if parasitic life cycles are enabled by feeding RMBDs. Numerous life cycles of heteroxenous parasites depend on the uptake of raw or undercooked animal-source protein by carnivores. Some of these parasites are zoonotic. The dog tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus infects dogs via contaminated offal and poses a considerable zoonotic threat. The viscera of many livestock …

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