Dogs are notoriously undiscriminating about what they eat, given the chance. With the growth of raw meat diets for dogs, more people are giving their dogs raw meat daily, often including pork. This can be a controversial topic--anything a dog eats has the potential for harm, and raw pork, especially if it's wild or home-raised, can cause food poisoning.
Raw or "BARF" (Bones and Raw Food) diets for dogs have become increasingly more common, with many regional distributors and some large pet food companies selling raw meat pet food, including pork, in pet supply stores. Smaller distributors purchase meat animals from small farms, or raise their own for processing into pet food. Many people also buy meat from butchers and supermarkets for their dogs.
Your dog is more likely to get infected by trichinellosis from eating raw pork from home-raised sources, or from wild pigs, than from store-bought pork. The Centers for Disease Control cautions that trichinellosis associated with eating raw pork is now somewhat rare, but is still a concern with wild game or from home-raised pigs who are fed a diet consisting of garbage and raw meat.
Features and Identification
Dogs have similar food poisoning symptoms to people, and they are rather easy to spot: diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy and dehydration are common signs of food poisoning. Trichinellosis poisoning may also include difficulty breathing, loss of motor control and irregular heartbeat. Food poisoning is usually identified by examining a fecal sample under a microscope; when you bring your dog to the veterinarian, take a fresh stool sample with you, if possible. Trichinellosis is disgnosed through a blood test or muscle biopsy.
If you are unsure about the source of raw pork, cook it thoroughly, just as you would for human family members. If you do feed raw pork, use fresh, high-quality meat and feed it promptly, rather than letting it sit and gather bacteria. If you're unwilling to let your dog eat any raw meat, dispose of all food waste in a dustbin with a tight-fitting lid.
All foods and treats your dog eats can be contaminated with bacteria, mould or foreign substances such as melamine. The Food and Drug Administration lists 976 pet food recalls between Jan. 1, 2006, and April 7, 2010, and none of these were raw meat products. Raw pork and other raw meat products can also be contaminated and cause food poisoning, although you can eliminate the risk of your dog getting sick from pork by cooking it first. Those who prefer to feed a fresh homemade diet with little risk often choose to cook all raw meat for their dog's meals.
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