From Nutritional Adequacy to Hygiene Quality: A Detailed Assessment of Commercial Raw Pet-Food for Dogs and Cats

Animals (Basel). 2022 Sep 13;12(18):2395. doi: 10.3390/ani12182395.


Raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) are widely used as unconventional diets for dogs and cats at different life stages, despite concerns regarding nutritional adequacy and microbial contamination. The aim of this study was to evaluate both the nutritional and hygiene quality profile of RMBDs purchased in Germany. For this purpose, crude nutrients were assessed in 44 RMBDs and compared to declared values. In addition, selected minerals were determined in 31 RMBDs labelled as complete and compared to the minimum requirement (MR) for intended species and life stages. Aerobic colony count (ACC) and Enterobacteriaceae were used to assess the hygiene quality of 37 commercial RMBDs, while the presence of Salmonella spp. was examined in 10 products. Fat and protein content exceeded tolerated deviation from declared values in 33% and 45% of RMBDs, respectively. Each RMBD showed at least one concern regarding nutrient content. The RMBDs had high fat contents (mean 69, range 33-95 g/Mcal) that were negatively correlated with protein (r = -0.74, p < 0.0001). Considerable contaminations by ACC and Enterobacteriaceae were found (2.61 × 108 ± 3.63 × 108 and 3.61 × 106 ± 8.39 x106 CFU/g, respectively). A higher count of Enterobacteriaceae was detected in a frozen RMBDs made of poultry or carcasses from different animals, compared to the thawed counterpart (p = 0.003), as well as compared to other sources, such as beef, horse, and lamb, regardless of the storage condition. Salmonella spp. were found in 2/10 RMBDs. This study confirmed that feeding commercial RMBDs might pose a risk to pet health.

Keywords: high-fat diets; nutritional deficiencies; pet food hygiene; pet nutrition; raw pet food; unconventional pet food.

Grant support

This research received no external funding.