What to feed your dog is a ‘hot potato’ topic at the moment! You may have read our recent blog ‘Feeding dogs raw chicken necks warning!’ which says feeding dogs raw chicken meat, particularly chicken necks, has been linked to a rare but potentially fatal type of canine paralysis.  This statement was from a Study led by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital.  The outcome of the Study found the consumption of raw chicken meat increased the risk of developing the paralysing condition acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times.  This is alarming!

Since posting our blog, we have received comments from the Pets4Life community saying there are flaws in the Study and referred to Dr Connor Brady’s article, ‘Raw chicken necks is highly unlikely to cause paralysis in dogs‘.  Dr Connor Brady is not a veterinarian, he has a Doctorate on the effects of diet on animal behaviour.  Dr Brady is an advocate for fresh food for dogs and the Founder of Dogs First in Ireland.  He says on his website, ‘The veterinary focus of treating symptoms when they pop up instead of tackling the cause of all this illness is plain wrong. Dogs First’s mission is to have at least 25% of Irish vets recommending fresh ingredients for dogs by 2020.’

You can make up your own mind about whether to feed your dog raw chicken meat or not.

RAW CHICKEN IS HIGHLY UNLIKELY TO CAUSE PARALYSIS IN DOGS says Dr Connor Brady

According to Dr Brady’s blog post – Melbourne University produced a study investigating Acute PolyradiculoNeuritis (APN) in dogs. This is an immune-mediated peripheral nerve disorder where a suspected trigger is the bacterial pathogen Campylobacter spp. In a piece entitled “Raw Chicken Causes Paralysis in Dogs”, the university found that around half of their APN dogs (13 of 27, 48%) had Campylobacter spp. in their faeces. Further, they found that 98% of the APN cases (26 of 27) had been fed raw chicken (including such pieces as necks and wings). From this, the authors concluded,

…raw chicken in the diet is highly likely to increase the risk of developing APN in dogs in Australia

…We recommend owners choose regular dog food rather than chicken necks until we know more about this debilitating condition

OK, on first glance, certainly considering the author’s conclusions, this doesn’t look good for raw feeding. Raw chicken is certainly a source of Campylobacter and a lot of raw dog foods are based on raw chicken. What’s more, Campylobacter is well known to put you on your ass, or at least pooing a lot out of it. It is the most common bacterial cause of enteric disease worldwide, with two million American cases reported annually. Despite authors yet to document a single incident of Campylobacter poisoning in humans resulting from a raw fed dog (Finley et al. 2006), it’s an emotive one for the people.

Needless to say, this University of Melbournes study was eagerly seized upon by our vets (Pete The VetLongford VetsU-Vet, to name but three) as well as media outlets worldwide (ABC newsNews.comDaily Mail etc) as yet more proof that fresh food as a whole is dangerous for your dog and you should only feed them highly processed, inert, packets of crud made in China.

Dr Brady examines the science uncovers the flaws in the Melbourne University’s Study.  We have provided an extract of the key points from Dr Brady’s blog post.  Read the full blog post here.

1. AROUND HALF OF DOGS NORMALLY HOUSE CAMPYLOBACTER IN THEIR GUTS!

Approximately half the canine population house Campylobacter in their guts. It’s a very normal thing for cats and dogs to have, irrespective if they are dry or raw fed.

2. THERE ARE SO MANY CAUSES OF APN IN DOGS IT’S RIDICULOUS…

Contrary to the findings in this Study, previous authors found no such link with Campylobacter and APN in dogs (Holt et al. 2011). In fact, these authors investigated the link between 6 microbes (Ehrlichia canisBorrelia burgdorferiToxoplasma gondiiNeospora caninumCampylobacter and distemper) with APN and found that T. gondii was the only significant culprit.

Instead, APN has been linked to a great variety of maladies including vaccinations (Gehring and Eggars 2001) as well as common upper respiratory and gastro-intestinal infections (Cummings et al. 1992, Cuddon 2002).

3. POOR SAMPLE SIZE AND POORER SAMPLING METHODS…

This study is talking about 27 dogs with APN. For those of you outside the science realm, this is a pitifully small number of cases to be working with. When the study notes that 26/27 dogs (98%) with APN were fed raw chicken but only 13/47 control dogs (26%), my natural inclination would be a) you need far more dogs before you make any reasonable claims and b) how did you select your control dogs?

4. MIGHT THERE BE ANOTHER REASON DOGS WITH APN SHED CAMPYLOBACTER IN THEIR FAECES?

No, I really don’t know, is there?! The authors of the Study seemed so clear, but I’m struggling. They found that a not-unusual 48% of their APN dogs were shedding Campylobacter (while the other half did not), noted that these dogs were being fed more raw chicken wings and necks than the control group (possibly because they were smaller coupled with the fact that the control group was populated with vet university staff dogs), concluded that their neurological disorder was caused by the chicken (an impossible leap) and recommended everyone to steer clear of all raw dog food as a whole.