Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't Feed Foods Containing Enterococcus


Don't Feed Foods Containing Enterococcus
March 04, 2009

Over the past several years, and most recently with increasing frequency, I have found urinary tract infections in cats and dogs with a particular strain of Enterococcus bacteria. Independently, I have come to scrutinize the ingredients of a myriad of boutique pet foods and have found a connection. Pets with Enterococcal urinary tract infection are eating these boutique foods that contain the bacteria.

Enterococcus faecium - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Important clinical infections caused by Enterococcus include urinary tract infections, bacteremia, bacterial endocarditis, diverticulitis, and meningitis. What are the pet food manufacturers thinking? The bacteria is resistant to most antibiotics and does not serve any useful purpose in a pet's diet. Why would these pet food producers add such ingredients as this to our pet's diets? There is a belief that added bacteria can help a pet's digestion. These additives are called "probiotics" are are believed to help repopulate the intestine with the normal flora. Here is the position held by the manufacturer of Wellness Pet Food:

"Live Micro-organisms
Natural micro-flora (friendly bacteria) that may help the digestion process, thus providing more efficient utilization of food and produce bacteriocins which act as natural antibiotics that kill undesirable micro-organisms."

Here are the ingredients:
First 2 ingredients: Human Grade Salmon, Human Grade Deboned Turkey. Wellness Salmon cat food is formulated with low dietary magnesium, whole blueberries and cranberries to promote proper urinary tract function. Linoleic and Linolenic acids are at the optimal ratio of 3:1 for healthy skin and coat. Additionally, Wellness cat foods feature 100% whole fruits and vegetables, containing essential vitamins and antioxidants to ensure cat’s overall well-health.

Product Ingredients:

Salmon, Deboned Turkey, Herring Meal, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fishmeal, Ground Whole Oats, Brown Rice, Dried Whole Eggs, Dried Peas, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Herring Oil, Chicken Liver, Flaxseed, Cranberries, Blueberries, Taurine, Garlic, Alfalfa Leaf, Dried Kelp, Whole Ground Apples, Whole Ground Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Zucchini, Yucca Schidigera, Chicory Extract, Beta Carotene, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Enterococcus Faecium, Lactobacillus Casei, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate (a chelated source of Zinc), Vitamin E supplement, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate (a chelated source of Iron), Manganese Proteinate (a chelated source of Manganese), Calcium Proteinate (a chelated source of Calcium), Niacin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin A Acetate, Folic Acid, Cobalt Proteinate (a chelated source of Cobalt), Copper Sulfate, Cobalt Carbonate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Copper Proteinate (a chelated source of Copper), Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K activity).

It all sounds great. The problem is: it can all be spoiled, potentially, by the overgrowth of Enterococcus.

Other scientists have a differing opinion of these "probiotics". They argue that any bacteria ingested will be neutralized by the harsh pH of stomach acid (thankfully) and never make it to the intestine where it would normally reside at a much higher pH.

Either way, there is more risk of infections from these organisms added to the food than any true derived benefit. I personally would avoid any food containing one of the following modifiers: "Natural", "Organic" or "Holistic". In most cases these food contain Enterococcus and other bacteria. Food left out containing live bacteria will promote rapid growth. The pet eats the food with high populations of these bacteria, then afterward clean themselves and probably inoculate the urinary tract. I have diagnosed several cases of Enterococcal urinary tract infection and at least one confirmed case of kidney failure in a young cat who ate these foods.

If any of your pets are eating foods containing this bacteria, please have a urinalysis and culture performed as a part of a regular checkup. Many UTIs go undetected and can slowly scar the kidney until failure occurs and by then it's too late.
Steve Weinberg, DVM
911 VETS Home Pet Medical


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cloudyjames said...

This is very informative and it is refreshing to have a Vet discuss food outside of promoting what he/she is selling.