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Dog Paralysis Linked to Raw Chicken Necks

When collecting our new puppies from breeders, we are often given diet information which can sometimes encourage feeding raw chicken necks as part of a diet.  In the past chicken necks have been recommended for dental health, especially in smaller breeds and were easy to purchase in supermarkets.  This is now a high-risk diet.

A study led by Melbourne University confirmed that consumption of raw chicken meat increased the risk of developing the paralysis condition, acute polyradiculoneuritis, also known as APN, by more than 70 times.  This is a debilitating condition where the dog’s hind legs first become weak and then may progress to affect the front legs, neck, head and face.  APN can be fatal if the paralysis progresses to the dog’s chest. Most dogs recover without treatment, but it may take up to 6 months or more in some cases, to rehabilitate, but it can be difficult for owners to nurse their pet until the condition improves.

This paralysis is a result of the dog’s immune system becoming unregulated and attacking its own nerve roots, progressively worsening over several days.  The APN equivalent in humans is known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.  This condition also causes muscle weakness and may require ventilation if chest muscles are affected.  The trigger for Guillain-Barre syndrome may be undercooked chicken, unpasteurised milk products or contaminated water. 

APN is more often diagnosed in smaller breed dogs, as they are fed chicken necks more often as they struggle to eat larger bones. Chicken necks are usually fed to encourage dental health, to help scale the teeth and gums. Now-days there are dry foods, treats and products that combat dental hygiene more effectively, reducing the need for raw bone products.

There have been cases of APN diagnosed in Melbourne recently, so it is more an ‘owner beware’ situation, as pet-lovers we are not aware that these simple things can cause such severe medical issues.