Study finds giving dogs raw chicken could lead to paralysis

  • 06/02/2018
A dog eating a raw chicken leg.
A dog eating a raw chicken leg. Photo credit: Getty

An Australian study is giving pet owners a reason to reconsider giving their animals raw chicken carcasses after discovering eating the meat can greatly increase the chance of a paralytic disease.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne's U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital discovered the link between raw chicken and acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN), 9 News reports.

The study found eating raw chicken, particularly chicken necks, could increase the risk of the disease by more than 70 times.

APN causes weakness in the hind legs that can spread to the front legs, neck, head and face. The disease can take up to six months to recover from, but can be fatal if the paralysis reaches the dog's chest.

It works similarly to human disease Guillain-Barre syndrome, where the immune system attacks the nervous system. In humans campylobacter is a common precursor to the syndrome, which may be known to people as a long-lasting effect of the Havelock North water crisis.

Chief investigator Dr Matthias le Chevoir looked at whether the same link occurred between campylobacter and APN in dogs.

He examined the diets of 27 dogs exhibiting symptoms of the disease and found campylobacter was a likely cause of the paralysis.

The finding is particularly concerning given the popularity of raw meat diets in pets, and is not the first research to throw the safety of feeding animals raw meat into question. Another study, from the Veterinary Record, found feeding pets raw meat could increase the chance of transferring parasites and diseases between pets and humans.