Dog owners should not feed their canines raw chicken after researchers discovered a link between the uncooked meat and a form of dog paralysis.
Dogs that eat raw chicken meat, especially chicken necks, have an increased risk of developing the potentially fatal form of dog paralysis, known as acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN).
Dog owners have for a long time been encouraged to give their dogs raw chicken necks to boost their pet’s dental health.
APN is the canine counterpart of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans.
The study’s findings pinpointed the bacteria Campylobacter as a triggering agent in up to 40 percent of GBS patients. The bacteria is present in undercooked or raw chicken, unpasteurized milk products, and contaminated water.
“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.
The paralysis leads to attacks on dogs’ nerve roots, the researchers noted.
“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,” said Matthias le Chevoir, the chief investigator of the project at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital.
“Some dogs may die from the disease if their chest becomes paralyzed,” he said.
“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,” he added. “A better understanding of this condition is therefore very important, so our team was really pleased to have discovered that consuming raw chicken necks is an important risk factor for developing APN.”
The study involved 27 dogs with symptoms of APN and 47 dogs without.
The risk of APN is particularly high for smaller dogs because they’re more likely to be fed chicken necks since they often can’t eat larger bones.
The study was published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.