Feeding a raw food diet represents a growing trend among owners hoping to improve their pet's health, but it may cause a potentially fatal salmonella infection, according to a study by the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine (Athens).
While raw food diets are becoming increasingly popular among pet owners, there is a growing body of information showing that these diets pose a health risk not only for the pets that consume them, but to their owners as well.
Researchers at the university traced the cause of death in two cats to raw beef used in their home prepared diets. The cats developed salmonellosis, which caused gastrointestinal upset, weight loss and anorexia.
The study is the first to describe the occurrence of salmonellosis in cats as a result of feeding a raw meat based diet.
While most human cases of the disease result from direct exposure to contaminated food, the study also found that the disease can be spread via direct and indirect contact with infected pets.
In cats and humans, the very young and very old, as well as those with compromised immunity, have the highest risk of infection.