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Misconceptions about a popular pet treat
Date:1/28/2013

ats were tested for bacterial contaminants. One (4 percent) of the sticks was contaminated with Clostridium difficile; one (four percent) was contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics; and seven (27 percent) were contaminated with Escherichia coli, including one tetracycline-resistant sample.

The number of treats sampled was small and not all of these bacterial strains have been shown to infect humans. However, the researchers advise all pet owners to wash their hands after touching such treats, as they would with any raw meat or raw meat diets. The very young, elderly, pregnant, immunocompromised and other high-risk individuals should avoid all contact with raw animal-product based treats and raw meat diets, note the scientists.

To learn more about veterinarian and pet owner perceptions of dog foods and treats, the research team developed a 20-question Web-based survey. The survey was posted online for public participation for 60 days and all responses were anonymous. It was completed by 852 adults from 44 states and six countries. Most respondents were female dog owners.

"We were surprised at the clear misconceptions pet owners and veterinarians have with pet foods and many of the popular raw animal-product based pet treats currently on the market," said Freeman. "For example, 71 percent of people feeding bully sticks to their pets stated they avoid by-products in pet foods, yet bully sticks are, for all intents and purposes, an animal by-product."

Another surprising finding was the large number of people who did not know what bully sticks actually were. A higher proportion of veterinarians (62 percent) were able to correctly identify the source of bully sticks as bull penis compared to general respondents (44 percent). Twenty-three percent of the respondents fed their dogs bully sticks.

Further research
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Contact: Katie Cinnamond
katherine.cinnamond@tufts.edu
617-627-4703
Tufts University
Source:Eurekalert  

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