Recently in Australia (2018) the university of Melbourne ran with an article based around the title “raw chicken linked to paralysis in dogs”
An article by ” Dr Nerissa Hannink, University of Melbourne” dresses this up as helpful hints to save our “furry friends”. Unfortunately this “new study” led by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, smacks of propaganda, and a scare campaign aimed at driving the people back into the corporate arms of big grain dog food companies, Nothing more.
It is true that ‘bad bacteria’ will affect ANY ANIMAL that eats it. It is true that dogs and wolves (dog ancestors) in the wild bury meat in dirt for days at a time, before they dig it up and eat it. It is true that this is a natural phenomena.
Here are also some more facts (not uncovered by the university) as to why people use chicken necks as dog treats. Their bones tend not to splinter can provide the perfect natural way of safely getting the right balance of calcium and phosphorus into your dogs body, Affco guidelines show you how much calcium your dog needs and in what ratio – which is provided in powdered form in most dog food – but not always from bone sources.
Raw feeders use chicken necks as the perfect most bio availably method of securing your dogs calcium for bone and many other body functions, as well as teeth cleaning and jaw strengthening. Unlike pellets that can have the wrong type of calcium, doesn’t require chewing, doesn’t clean teeth and can actually stick to teeth requiring expensive and sometimes dangerous teeth cleaning sessions at your vet.
So why would chicken necks suddenly fall out of favour and who would sponsor such studies at a vet training school would you think?
They say that ” Campylobacter is now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 per cent of GBS patients. It may be present in undercooked chicken, unpasteurised milk products and contaminated water.” “Our team at U-Vet Animal Hospital wanted to understand if consuming raw chicken COULD also be triggering APN in dogs.” The study was only on 27 dogs with symptoms of APN (acute polyradiculoneuritis ) and 47 without.
It is curious that butchers, Coles and Woolworths (that cover 70% of supermarkets in Australia) should still be selling such potentially ‘lethal’ products.
And straight out of the corporate dog food manufacturer, their by-line has this perverted statement “We recommend owners choose regular dog food rather than chicken necks until we know more about this debilitating condition.”
They may as well add that if you drink too much water you can drown. Or eating too much food can make you obese. YES there are basic safely rules around feeding raw meat, but before we go into those please consider how dangerous “regular dog food” has been in the recent past: I have listed some of the global reaching dog food poisoning cases by trusted “dog food” corporations in the APPENDIX below. Note this is just for balance to the claim that you can trust dog food grain brands more. Please consider that many of the main brands in Australia are imported from America still, and it can be the grain or other added chemicals that cause the dog poisoning.
If you are feeding your dog a raw diet, and chicken necks form part of it, you should still not be giving more than two chicken necks daily. They are not nutritionally balanced, and do not provide everything that your dog needs.
Safety around raw feeding and chicken necks
Raw feeders feed mostly raw meat. Any grain is typically used for its fibre value for the dog intestine. If you don’t feed whole prey to your dogs, then your dog’s stools might become loose without added non meat fibre.
Many true raw feeders feed chicken carcasses and raw chicken meat even road kill. While suburban raw feeders might concentrate on raw red meat meals and cooked chicken. The chicken necks are invariably raw for their calcium benefit and teeth cleaning properties. Cooking small bones too much as the increased potential for bone splintering. That was their main caution in the past.
If you read up on Human food safety and food storage you will know that between 4 C and 60 C is often the temperature you don’t want to have your raw or cooked food sitting for too long. This is the temperature range that most ‘bad’ and good bacteria can breed fastest. It is the AMOUNT of bad bacteria which is really the problem for most healthy humans and dogs, not just the type.
Did you know that while raw feeders and humans are told to freeze their raw meats until required and freezing raw meat and offal and bones for dogs while stall bad bacteria population growth (if the meat has any ‘bad’ bacteria), it won’t kill most of the bad types unless the temperature falls below 70C which is out of reach of most domestic freezers, and many commercial freezers too.
So ideally: buy your raw meat for your dogs from a good source, freeze immediately if you are not going to use the chicken necks. Make sure your refrigerator is between 2 and 4 C and put the necks in batches for two days feeding so they dont stay in the refrigerator too long before feeding.
NOTE if you have a very small dog, old dog, young dog or any dog with a compromised immune system – you may consider finding another source of calcium if you are a raw feeder. Your dog’s safety is our primary concern. Of course any of these dogs can eat our 100% meat jerky range of healthy dog treats to get a good chew and nutrition.
If you want some real science you might look to references such as this from “Journal of Applied Microbiology” 2006 ” As for samples inoculated on cut muscle, only freezing had a significant effect, as had already been observed by other authors. For Campylobacter cells which were frozen on boneless chicken breasts, the largest drop in cell counts occurred during the first 24 hours of storage – after which there was a more gradual or no decline (Abram and Potter 1984). We observed a clear tailing effect after 2 weeks. This is consistent with the findings of Moorhead and Dykes (2002), who studied Campylobacter on beef trimmings, and at minus 18C found a log CFU decrease during the first week but no subsequent decline.”
What you might also want to know is that Campylobacter ” will not survive thorough cooking (temperatures above 70°C). It is important that when cooking foods such as eggs, chicken, fish and pastry products, they are kept at this temperature or higher for a minimum of two minutes”. However other bacteria need temperatures well over 100 C temperatures to be killed.
Dog food companies often cook grain and meat concoctions as much higher temperatures to reduce cooking times (and increase profits – by speeding up manufacturing and reducing gas costs). However cooking at too high temperatures can kill enzymes and all of the natural goodness (including vitamins).
This fact is a good reason to buy meat based healthy dog treats. They are cooked at the right temperature for killing bacteria, but not too high as to kill all of the goodness. This is why our treats are the perfect dog food supplement.
3. The current hypothesis is that GBS may be due to infection with Campylobacter bacteria, because there is a molecule in this bacteria that closely resembles some found in the affected nerve cells. The immune system becomes dysregulated and attacks both the bacteria and the body’s own nerve cells as it is unable to differentiate between the two, and the breakdown of the nerves causes the disease.
At The Natural Vets, we DO NOT recommend feeding chicken necks as a raw meaty bone for reasons that relate to the shape and size of the bone, and the bone:meat ratio. They are the perfect size for choking on and blocking the airway, and the high bone + cartilage to meat ratio often leads to constipation.
9. There are many unanswered questions within the study framework. What else were the affected dogs fed? Were they on 100% raw diets? Or on a combination of processed food and raw meats? Were they vaccinated? If so, how often? What other toxins were they exposed to in their food supply or water or environment or drug regime? What was their overall health status?
It seems that Campylobacter is a possible autoimmune trigger, but so are many other things that are administered to pets or present in their environment – such as antibiotics, vaccines, anti-inflammatory medications, impure drinking water, contaminated food, food that is too high in starch, excess body weight, stress, environmental poisons, etc. All of these things have the potential to disturb the immune system, and in most cases there is a ‘stacking’ effect, meaning a strong, vital animal will probably handle one or two or three of these, but if they keep stacking up, or if something else affects the strength and vitality of the individual, then disease will likely result.
There has been recent media attention on the potential dangers of feeding raw chicken necks to dogs. A research article from the University of Melbourne has demonstrated a link between the feeding of raw chicken necks and cases of polyradiculoneuritis (an uncommon but debilitating paralysis that can lead to death from respiratory failure).
While many veterinarians are supportive of pet owners feeding chicken hearts, livers or necks, each dog has specific nutritional needs based on breed, age and health. Consult your vet before feeding any these chicken parts to your dog. The VetInfo website warns that dogs who are fed chicken livers as more than 5 percent of their overall diet can suffer from loose stools or overdose of vitamin A. Bone spurs and deformities, stiffness, weak muscles, upset stomach and weight loss are symptoms of vitamin A overdosing. A dog that eats chicken heart as more than 5 percent of his overall diet is at risk for loose stools. Small dogs and puppies are not good candidates for feeding chicken necks, as they can easily choke on them.
Commercially prepared dog foods have been recalled and brought under scrutiny for the ingredients used. Because of this, many dog owners are looking at alternative methods of feeding their pets. So many dog diets exist that it can be confusing as to what you can feed your dog. Chicken is an inexpensive meat source thats frequently used in dog food. Some parts of the chicken are prime, some are not so prime.
Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, who says dogs wouuld be healthier if they followed the diet of their predecessors in the wild, maintains that raw chicken necks are soft enough for most dogs to chew and digest. Pet owners nervous about feeding neck bones, can grind meat or purchase it already ground. According to Natural Dog Health Remedies, chicken neck bones become too brittle once they are cooked and should only be served raw. Brittle bones can cause numerous problems, ranging from choking to stomach and intestinal issues. Raw chicken necks provide calcium and act as a tooth brush to keep your dog’s teeth clean. If you choose to feed raw chicken necks as part of your dog’s diet, select necks from chicken raised without antibiotics or hormones. The necks should make up no more than 30 percent to 50 percent of your dog’s nutritional intake.
Based in Las Vegas, Sandy Vigil has been a writer and educator since 1980. She taught high school and middle school English and drama for 11 years. Vigil holds a Master of Science in teaching from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in secondary English education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Chicken hearts share many of the same benefits as livers, although they are less dense in nutrients by comparison. The heart of the chicken is a lean protein that contains fatty acids and vitamin A along with iron and B vitamins. Because they also contain taurine, chicken hearts are good for your dog’s heart. Serve chicken hearts cooked or raw as part of your dogs dinner or as an occasional treat.
Can puppies have chicken necks?
Is raw chicken neck good for puppies?
Are chicken necks OK for small dogs?
How do you cook chicken necks for puppies?