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dogs eating raw chicken

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This article scares me. I regularly feed my small dogs chicken wings because I have been told they help to prevent teeth decay. Just wondering what other people think. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-06/raw-chicken-necks-linked-to-rare-dog-paralysis/9399562  

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Dog owners warned as researchers link raw chicken necks to fatal paralysis

Posted 12 minutes ago

Dog owners have been advised to avoid feeding their pets raw chicken after researchers found a link between the meat and a rare and potentially fatal form of canine paralysis.

Key points:

  • University of Melbourne study warns against feeding dogs raw chicken meat, especially necks
  • Consumption of raw meat increases chances of catching polyradiculoneuritis, or APN
  • Researchers find link with small dogs, which are more likely to eat chicken necks

 

Researchers at the University of Melbourne's U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital found dogs which eat raw chicken meat, especially chicken necks, have an increased risk of developing the paralysing condition polyradiculoneuritis, also known as APN.

Chicken necks have long been recommended to pet owners for dental health, especially for smaller dog breeds, and are readily available in supermarkets.

The study's findings confirmed a "significant association" between APN and smaller canines.

Matthias le Chevoir, the chief investigator of the project, said the cause of APN had long been unknown, but the results were concerning given a growing trend to feed dogs raw meat diets.

"We would recommend that owners choose regular dog food rather than chicken necks until we know more about this debilitating condition," the researchers wrote in the study.

Debilitating symptoms

The paralysis is linked to an unregulated immune system in the dog, which results in attacks on its own nerve roots and Dr le Chevoir said it could be fatal.

 

"It is a rare but very debilitating condition where the dog's hind legs first become weak and then may progress to affect the front legs, neck, head and face," he said.

"Some dogs may die from the disease if their chest becomes paralysed.

"Most dogs eventually recover without treatment but it may take up to six months or more in some cases.

"It can be difficult for owners to nurse their pet until the condition gradually improves."

Research confirms theories

The paralysis is the dog form of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in humans, which is often triggered by the bacteria campylobacter, which may be present in undercooked chicken.

Considering this, the researchers studied the faeces of more than 70 dogs.

They found those with symptoms of APN were more likely to have had a campylobacter infection than those without, according to the study's lead author Lorena Martinez-Anton.

"We predict that the microbe campylobacter is likely to be the reason for the dysregulation of the dog's immunity and therefore, the symptoms of paralysis," Dr Martinez-Anton said.

"These bacteriological results were consistent with the hypothesis that the uncooked chicken meat was the source of the campylobacter and as a result, triggered APN."

 

 

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It’s a small subset of animals that are immune compromised in the first place. Mine are getting frozen raw frames after training tonight! 

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I'm not going to panic over it but good to know. I'll be more careful with my chicken cage but I usually prefer to give turkey anyway. Less chokable for big dogs 

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Malamum   

I just saw this and came here to post about it.

 

I've fed my dog raw chicken her whole life (necks included) and my initial reaction is not to panic.  I'm not all of a sudden going to switch her to commercial food as I feel that commercial food is worse for her than any potential risk.

 

I'm interested to see if once more people read this if any DOL'ers personally know of any instances of this occuring.

 

Can someone with a background in science explain it a bit further?   My interpretation of it is that there is bacteria in the chicken that the dogs immune system kicks in to fight but then ends up attacking it's own nervous system instead.  Is that correct?

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I just came here to post too... a friend saw it and let me know! 

She has a cavvy, and feeds necks. I feel like the risk of dental disease by not feeding bones is far greater than the risk of this disease. I advised to keep feeding bones, and if any symptoms arose to rush to vets, which they would anyway.

I read the article and it seems to be very vague/uncertain language (ie “possibility”, “may”, “hypothesis” etc). Plus it’s a rare disease, usually attacks already immunosuppressed dogs, barely any results when googling the disease. And thinking about how many dogs have eaten raw chicken every day of their life for centuries, it seems pretty unlikely.

I’ll be cautious though, I barely feed chicken muscle meat, but the only bones I feed are chicken (frames/drumsticks/feet/wings.) 

What are some good soft edible bone alternatives with low chance of choking or swallowing big chunks of hard to digest bone?? 

Maybe we could try turkey drumsticks or wings.. just a lot more expensive...! :( 

Edited by Scrappi&Monty
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Interestingly, looking at the paper, the significance is with the bacteria Campylobacter, not feeding raw. They don't mention what the control group was fed and they appear to have thrown out results for small dogs basically because it would have made the results less significant. 

Also, as far as I can see, the design is more correlational than proving cause i.e. campylobacter infection is more common in dogs with APN, and campylobacter infection can be caused by contaminated raw meat. Just because events occur together does not prove one event causes another. 

 

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Roova   

I went to the uni website and read the original article. There's more than what was quoted above and it didn't just relate to meat!

 

http://www.u-vet.com.au/news/dog-paralysis-condition-linked-to-eating-chicken-necks

 

Dr le Chevoir said the bacteria Campylobacter was now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 per cent of GBS patients, which is present in undercooked chicken, unpasteurised milk products and contaminated water. 

 

The team studied 27 dogs with symptoms of APN and 47 dogs without, examining physical symptoms and interviewing the owners about recent behaviours and diet; focusing on the consumption of raw chicken meat. 

Edited by Roova
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Malamum   

Dental hygiene is not the only benefit of eating raw bones though.

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Maddy   

I've fed raw to many dogs over many years and never had any trouble with chicken. Even in dogs who were raised and fed 100% kibble diet and then switched to raw food with me, their guts adjust and cope with no problems. It's almost as if dogs were made to eat meat or something? :noidea:

The fact that the true likelihood of disease (even assuming the campylobacter is the causative agent) is very low, was glossed over by many news outlets wanting a juicy headline. "Eating raw chicken has tiny, tiny, tiny risks involved, the same as any diet, at all" isn't going to get clicks (and clicks = money from advertisements). The way this article has been framed by many outlets and Facebook pages, you'd think the study had concluded that feeding chicken to dogs kills 100% of dogs, 100% of the time and while it's at it, also uses your toilet and doesn't flush, and leaves toast crumbs in your bed.

What should have looked like this: "Study suggests correlation between X and Y, concludes possibility of risk" instead looks like.. "COULD YOU BE UNKNOWINGLY KILLING YOUR DOG WITH CHICKEN??? ZOMG CHICKEN WILL PARALYSE YOU DOG SCIENCE SAID SO"

The biggest problem with this study is that it didn't really account for how/when the dogs began carrying campylobacter. We live very close to a fairly popular dog walking spot and out of curiosity, I tested both sources of water there- a small lake and a rivulet. Both were only a couple of CFU shy of being notifiable (this was during winter, summer would probably have been over the amount). Plenty of dogs swim in and drink the water, ingesting plenty of bacteria from a number of sources. This water is not known for being dirty (and it's certainly cleaner than the drinking troughs in a lot of dog parks) and is just another in a long list of ways that dogs can end up carrying potentially troublesome bacteria in their guts. We're talking about a species that looks upon duck poo like it's ambrosia from the gods themselves. Even if you make a point of feeding your dog only the most sterile of sterile kibbles, your dog would still likely drink out of a dirty puddle if it got a chance because dogs are inherently sort of gross that way (no offense dogs).

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Maddy, you made good points in your post. Agree wholly with you. Dogs can be pretty disgusting at times ( gotta love them) and yes they could pick up bacteria from anything.

I have fed raw to all of my dogs over the years. The cats too. And yes it’s chicken necks on the menu every other night. And chicken mince and fillets also. Frames etc you name it. Touch wood nothing has gone wrong. I will be very watchful of any signs of illness but that’s just normal anyway but I am not about to rush out and change Molly’s diet. She loves what she eats and has always ( touchwood) had a clean bill of health.

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I did a bit more reading on the disease, and it is certainly not very nice. My neighbour had the human equivalent and it was awful. 

It came up it can also be called Coonhound Paralysis because coonhounds and other North American hunting dogs get it from raccoons. So the bacteria can come from many sources, and as Maddy said dogs ingest all kinds of terrible germs, they’re dogs.

 

I’ll just be aware, and probably  cut down their raw chicken intake. For muscle meat I’ll cut all chicken and use other alternatives. For bones I’ll keep feeding chicken because it’s the most appropriate for my two. 

 

ETA: here is a study on the links between campylobacter and APN...

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29356096/

Edited by Scrappi&Monty

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Roova   

Fantastic! I hope the same news channels who published the first, publish the second.. I'll be really surprised if they do though..

 

 

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Boronia   
9 hours ago, SchnauzerMax said:

That was posted on the Westie page this morning Schnauzermax so hopefully with other groups/newspapers/tv the message will get out.

As usual I gave my lot their half chicken frame for tea last night. I tend to discount so much of the news nowadays, not news, just click-bait with no substance or ½ a story with the pertinent half left out

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kayla1   
11 hours ago, SchnauzerMax said:

Hmm...for someone claiming to have a doctorate in nutrition, he shows little understanding of basic research methodology. It seems he has misunderstood the methodology of the original study (for example, his statements of causation) and misinterpreted the results. There are many inaccuracies and a quick look at the cited studies reveals that the references cited do not support his statements (it looks like he has also misinterpreted the findings of previous studies). The language is emotive and he is presumably passionate about and/or invested in raw feeding. 

 

As for the original study, it's good to see research being done on APN in dogs and it shows that more research is clearly needed. I don't feed raw now (for other reasons), but if I did still feed raw then I probably wouldn't change that based on these findings alone. 

 

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yeah not a good "rebuttal" at all, it's about as hyperbole as most of the news articles are out there - just in a different direction. Doubt they even read the study, considering their points are super misunderstandings of basic research and they didn't even get the name of it right? Then it launches into conspiracy theory territory... yikes.

 

This I find a pretty good summary, in plain english, of the study's relevance and usefulness.

 

 

Quote

You may have heard by now that feeding chicken necks to dogs causes paralysis, or some variation of this incredible claim. I'm here to tell you, anyone feeling threatened or vindicated by this can settle right down. Let's concentrate on what this study actually shows.

 

1. The study looked at the incidence of APN, which is an immune-mediated disorder that leads to paralysis. That means the dog’s immune system attacks their own nervous system. Like most disorders of this kind, we don’t know why this happens, but there may be triggering factors that lead to the development of the disorder in susceptible dogs. The study looks at one possible triggering factor - a genus of bacteria found in raw poultry.

 

2. The researchers looked at 27 dogs with APN and a control group that did not have APN. This may seem like a small sample size, and I’m sure you’ve heard that this is bad. Statistical tests take sample sizes into account, though. If the sample size is small, it’s harder to get statistical significance. A very statistically significant result is very significant regardless of the sample size, and that is what the researchers reported. It’s always better to have a bigger sample, but a small sample size doesn’t mean the significant results should be disregarded. Generally, “small” is considered less than 30 as a rule of thumb, and there are specially designed statistical tests for small sample sizes that will increase confidence in the results.

 

3. The researchers found the dogs with APN were far more likely to have an infection of the suspect bacteria genus than the dogs without. What’s more, the dogs with APN were more likely to have been fed raw chicken than the dogs without. It’s just numbers, people. There’s not much to argue about. The results were highly statistically significant.

 

4. Despite the media jumping on chicken necks and wings as the culprits, no data were collected on this. Presumably, any part of the chicken is equally likely to harbour the bacteria. The researchers found smaller dogs were more likely to have APN, and suggested this might be because they are fed chicken bones over bones from other species because chicken bones are small.

 

5. The researchers have not claimed that the bacteria in question causes APN, or that chicken is the only way it might be introduced, or that all dogs fed chicken will pick up the bacteria, or that chicken causes APN. They have claimed that their data suggests APN could be triggered by an infection of the bacteria, and it does indeed suggest that. This does not mean it will always trigger APN or that it is the only way APN can be triggered. We don’t understand these sorts of disorders very well. Some dogs develop them and some don’t and we don’t know which dogs are at risk.

 

6. Researchers must declare conflicts of interest and funding sources. The researchers of this study declare no conflict of interest and the research was funded out of an Australian Research Council grant. It is not funded by a pet food company.

 

Obviously, there are many, many dogs out there fed raw chicken that have not and never will develop APN. There are several risks that come from feeding raw, and we take measures to minimise those risks in whatever way we feel comfortable with. This research merely flags another potential risk. APN is rare, and you may decide you can live with that risk. Or you may decide to feed only cooked chicken (without bones, I hope), or to freeze chicken you intend to feed to your dog(s) and thaw it out in the fridge to minimise bacterial growth. These are perfectly valid responses to the study. Disregarding the study because you don’t really like the results is I guess a valid response as well, but it’s not a rational or logical one. There’s no need to disregard it. We can better control risks when we know what they are.

 

For the record, I feed my dogs raw chicken, and will continue to do so. I am feeling more compelled to get myself organised to thaw meat for dogs in the fridge, though. Still working on the logistics of that one. The full study can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jvim.15030/full

 

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I suspect salmonella is a greater risk than APN... especially for young pups and dogs with immunity problems... especially if the source is a little iffy, or whiffy.

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