Warning to dog owners as vets reveal trendy raw food can be TOXIC to pooches
- Lead quantities exceeded safe limits in 77 per cent of analyzed food samples
- Prolonged exposure to lead poses a serious safety risk for humans and dogs
- For one raw pheasant food sample, the concentrations were 245 times over the limit
Trendy raw dog foods can be poisonous to pooches because they contain dangerous doses of toxic metals, experts have warned.
New research revealed that the safe limit of lead was exceeded by nearly 80 per cent of uncooked food samples with pheasant as its main ingredient.
Cambridge University scientists found concentrations to be 245 times over the limit in just one product, while two others were 135 and 49 times over, respectively.
Prolonged exposure to lead poses a serious safety risk to both animals and humans, with fatalities possible in the worst of cases.
‘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 such as chicken, beef or pork,’ said Professor Debbie Pain, the study’s lead author.
Trendy raw dog foods can be poisonous to pooches because they contain dangerous doses of toxic metals, experts have warned. Lead quantities exceeded the safe limit in 77 per cent of three analyzed food samples (file image)
‘However, we were surprised to find that the lead concentrations in raw pheasant dog food products were so much higher.’
The popularity of raw meat pet diets is currently surging across the UK, which is home to some 13 million dogs.
Researchers found that 34 per cent of 50 online raw pet food retailers sold pheasant-based recipes, with just over 70 per cent stating their product may contain ‘shot’.
This refers to the lead pellets used for shooting animals such as pheasants, waterfowl and turkeys in the hunting field.
Lead levels above the safe limit were also identified in some dried pheasant-based food products, but even this was far lower than raw food.
Meanwhile, no chicken, goose or tinned pheasant samples contained any dangerous levels of lead.
Scientists believe the mincing of raw pheasant meat may worsen the quantity of heavy metals found in dog food.
Grinding up any left over lead shot has the potential to increase the number of small metal particles in the meat.
When consumed, this can eventually end up in a dog’s bloodstream, with puppies particularly vulnerable to its effects on the nervous system.
Pictured: X-ray of minced pheasant-based dog food containing lead shot (circled)
Scientists believe that the mincing of pheasant meat could be worsening of heavy metal quantities in dog food (image file)
Study co-author Professor Rhys Green said: ‘The fact that most samples from three randomly sampled raw pheasant pet food products have very high lead concentrations, and that our recent research on shot types used to kill pheasants found that 94 per cent are shot with lead, suggests that this is a much broader issue than for just these three products.
‘However, some producers may source pheasants that have not been shot with leads, and owners can ask about this when buying pet food.’
The research comes just two years after the Government announced that it was considering a ban of lead ammunition to protect wildlife.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust previously showed that between 50,000 to 100,000 wildfowl die in the UK each year due to ingesting lead from used pellets.
Yet, scientists at the University of Cambridge found this had no effect in 2022, with 99.4 per cent of recovered pheasants still containing lead shot.
The new study has been published in the journal Ambio.