Educating clients about raw diets and the associated parasitic risks

Ian Wright, Philippa Richmond, ,
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Raw diets are increasing in popularity among UK cat and dog owners with a trend towards home prepped rather than processed formulations. This potentially exposes household pets to parasitic infections which can lead to direct zoonotic risk and economic losses for farmers. These parasites include the tapeworms Taenia species and Echinococcus granulosus, and a wide range of cyst forming protozoa such as Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum and Sarcocystis species. Avoiding feeding pets raw diets or adequate freezing prior to feeding that kills the cystic stages of these parasites, avoids exposure via this route. This forms an important part of controlling food-borne parasites in addition to worm treatment, responsible disposal of dog faeces, good hand hygiene and keeping dogs on leads on and around ruminant pasture. Many pet owners are unaware of the parasitic risk posed by raw feeding and client education is crucial in helping to prevent pet exposure. Veterinary nurses play a vital role in educating clients and working with them to minimise parasites transmitted by raw feeding.

Figure 1. Echinococcus granulosus adult tapeworms from a dog.
Figure 1. Echinococcus granulosus adult tapeworms from a dog.

Image courtesy of John McGarry, University of Liverpool.

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