Does Listeriosis affect our Pets?

The recent outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa, and the recall of a variety of cold meat products, have drawn the spotlight to food safety standards and raw food diets for pets.

Listeriosis is caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes that is commonly found in soil, water and vegetation. Therefore meat products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables can be contaminated from any of these sources. The most common food items that can be contaminated by the bacteria are raw milk, soft cheeses, vegetables, processed foods & ready-to-eat meats and smoked fish products.

The good news is that although L. monocytogenes can infect many animal species, dogs and cats rarely get listeriosis. Listeriosis is mainly seen in ruminants, such as cattle, goats, and sheep, with sheep being particularly sensitive to the bacteria.

At Raw Love Pets we don’t use any mutton products – only free-range, hormone-free chicken, beef, venison and ostrich. All of which are sourced from registered abattoirs and not from any meat processing plants. Additionally, all our suppliers are located in the Western or Eastern Cape areas which have not been affected by the outbreak.

To promote health and maintain food safety, Raw Love includes fermented vegetables in our dog food (and kefir in our cat food), for 3 key reasons:

  • The lactic acid in such veg produces an antimicrobial agent called bacteriocin which acts almost like an antibiotic, attacking unwanted pathogens, prohibiting them from growing to infectious levels. Adding fermented veg therefore, is like inoculating the food against harmful bacteria.
  • The fermentation process adds millions of beneficial microbes (probiotics) to the food that help balance gut bacteria, boosting overall immunity.
  • Fermented veg also acts as a potent detoxifier helping rid your pet’s body of a wide variety of toxins (including heavy metals).

To date, no cases of infected dogs or cats have been reported in South Africa. Furthermore, one study in the US revealed only six reported cases in dogs from 1947 to 2000, and even fewer cases of the disease in cats.  All of which goes to show that humans are more at risk of getting the disease than our beloved pets!

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Stiff neck

These symptoms do not automatically mean that your pet has listeriosis. Please consult your vet in case you are worried.

It is important when handling raw products, whether fruit or vegetables or meat, to practise good food safety. Always wash your hands before and after feeding, sterilise food bowls and containers, and don’t leave uneaten raw food out for your pet – keep it refrigerated until the next mealtime. Preferably don’t feed processed meats as treats. If you really are worried, feel free to cook the raw food – its still better than feeding biologically incorrect food!

The Raw Love Team

March 2018