Researchers from the University of Cambridge discovered “very high” levels of shotgun pellets in raw pheasant pet food, putting dogs in danger of lead poisoning.
They examined raw pheasant dog food and discovered that most samples had substantial amounts of lead, which could harm dogs if fed daily.
The neurological system is notably affected by lead, a hazardous metal harmful to humans and animals.
In the UK, lead shots can be used lawfully to dispatch terrestrial game birds like pheasants despite the health risks associated with their consumption.
Although humans consume most pheasants, some are minced and added to pet food.
According to Sky News, the researchers looked at 90 samples of dog food products from the UK and found that 77% had lead levels over the MRL.
It was discovered that the mean average lead contents in three raw pheasant-based dog food products were roughly 245,135, and 49 times greater than the MRL.
According to the research published in Ambio, the overall mean average in raw pheasant dog food was 34 times greater than in pheasant marketed for human consumption.
Zoology Department Chair Professor Debbie Pain of Cambridge University stated:
“We already knew that lead concentrations in pheasant meat sold for human consumption are often far higher than permitted in other meats like chicken, beef, or pork.
However, we were surprised that lead concentrations in raw pheasant dog food products were much higher.”
The researchers argued that this might be because pheasant is typically marketed to humans as entire birds or breasts but minced for dogs.
How Lead in Pheasant Meat Can Harm Dog’s Health
Lead shot may become more dispersed and smaller after being minced, increasing the likelihood that it may enter the bloodstream.
According to the study, dogs that consume food with such high lead contents, particularly as their main diet, run the danger of suffering health problems.
Puppies are especially at risk because they consume more lead than older animals, and the hazardous element directly affects the growing neurological system.
Nine shooting associations in the UK have agreed to phase out lead use over a five-year period beginning in February 2020, citing concerns for the environment and animals and maintaining a robust game market.
According to Cambridge scientists, voluntary ban compliance is constantly low, but Denmark's total ban has been proven to be successful.
Under the UK Reach Chemicals Regulation, limits on lead bullets as well as a prohibition on the sale and use of lead gunshots, are currently under consideration.
The scientists examined five pheasant-based dog food products for their study.
One was processed, tinned pheasant and goose, one was dried pheasant and partridge, and three were raw meat.
Three other equivalent chicken-based products (raw, dry, and processed) were also put to the test.
The dried pheasant-based product included lead amounts over the MRL, albeit at lower levels than those discovered in the raw meat.
None of the canned pheasant or chicken-based products had unsafe amounts of lead.
The 13 million dogs in the UK have access to a wide variety of raw dog food, according to the researchers.
The 34% of the 50 online providers of raw pet food they investigated sell pheasant, with 71% of those sellers indicating that the meat may include a shot.
Professor Rhys Green, a 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.”