Dogs may be at risk of lead poisoning found in raw pheasant pet food - symptoms to be aware of
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Raw pheasant pet food has been discovered to have "very high" quantities of lead from shotgun pellets, posing a health danger to dogs. Researchers from the University of Cambridge tested raw pheasant dog food and found that the majority of the samples had significant amounts of lead, which could be harmful to dogs if consumed regularly.
According to Sky News, after analysing 90 samples of UK dog food items, the researchers discovered that 77% of them contained lead quantities above the maximum residual limit (MRL).
Five different brands of pheasant-based dog food were tested by the Cambridge researchers. Three of these were raw meat, one was dried pheasant and partridge, and the other was tinned pheasant and geese that had been preserved by processing. Additionally, the study evaluated three other chicken-based products (raw, dried, and processed).
Lead concentrations above the MRL were found in the dried pheasant-based product but at levels lower than that found in the raw meat. Neither of the chicken or tinned pheasant-based products contained unacceptable levels of lead.
The three raw pheasant-based dog food products had lead concentrations which were approximately 245, 135 and 49 times higher than the MRL. The study, published in the journal Ambio, found that the overall mean average in raw pheasant dog food was found to be 34 times higher than in pheasant sold for human consumption.
Professor Debbie Pain, of Cambridge University’s Zoology Department, said: "We were already aware that lead concentrations in pheasant meat sold for human consumption are often far higher than would be permitted in other meats like chicken, beef or pork.
"However, we were surprised to find that lead concentrations in raw pheasant dog food products were so much higher."
Professor Rhys Green, co-author of the study, said: "The fact that most samples from three randomly sampled raw pheasant pet food products had very high lead concentrations, and that our recent research on shot types used to kill pheasants found that 94% are shot with lead, suggests that this is a far broader issue than for just these three products.
"However, some producers may source pheasants that have not been shot with lead, and owners could ask about this when buying pet food."
How dangerous is lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning is extremely deadly for both dogs and people, with the effects concentrating on the neurological system - excessive amounts can cause convulsions, coma, and even death.
Despite the nutritional risk, lead shot may be used legally in the UK to kill game birds such as pheasants. The majority of pheasants are consumed by humans, although some are minced and used in pet food.
When meat is minced for pet food, minute particles form, increasing the likelihood that it will be absorbed into the circulation. Dogs eating food with such high levels of lead continue to be at risk of harm to their health, with pups being especially sensitive owing to their developing neurological system.
What are the symptoms of lead poisoning in dogs?
A few common symptoms of lead toxicity that dog owners should look out for:
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Increased thirst
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle Tremors