Mad Cow Disease and Your Dog's Food
If you feed your pooch ground beef, like I do from time to time, you may have a question if that beef is safe in light of the latest "Mad Cow Disease" news. You don't have to feed your dog straight beef to have this question. Many, many brands and flavors of dog food contain some beef product. Should you worry about Mad Cow Disease spreading via your dog's food?
Right now, the consensus is "no". Why?
Getting Mad Cow Disease
1. Dogs and Mad Cow Disease. There's never been a reported case of a dog getting it. Additionally, the FDA reports that there is no scientific evidence to date that dogs can or ever have contracted Mad Cow Disease at all.
2. What is Mad Cow Disease. This contagious condition happens when a cow contracts a disease called BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). BSE causes lots of tiny holes in the brain and spinal column, making it 'spongy'. The cow then loses motor skills until it dies.
3. Then How Do Cows Get Mad Cow Disease? They can only get it by eating feed that contains cow meat contaminated with Mad Cow Disease/BSE. Why are cows eating other cows? That's a whole other issue, but basically if other forms of protient, like soybean, is too expensive, the cattle farmers will use ground up meat from other cows.
Specifically, it's the nervous tissue from infected cattle that can spread the disease. However, if beef producers are following protocol, infected tissue from slaughtered cows is not allowed in cattle feed or in any food meant for humans to eat.
4. Are Dogs Exposed to Mad Cow Disease? Possibly. Meat from contaminated cows could be used the making of food for poultry and house pets. According to some, like specialists for infectious diseases at the University of California at Davis, it would be highly unlikely that nervous tissue would end up even in pet food.
Pet food is supposedly vigorously inspected and processed in such a way that they are deemed safe for the pets included heat-treated to destroy any pathogens.
As we've seen in the last year there are lapses in the inspection process. However, by the same token, because of the pet food scare in the last year, there is more attention on inspecting pet food.
5. How Do Humans Get Mad Cow Disease? First, as far as humans are concerned, it is believed but not proven, that Mad Cow Disease can be transmitted to people who eat infected carcasses. Second, once a person gets or develops this disease, the disease changes somewhat and is known as vCJD (or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.)
What Should I Do?
You go with your judgement. From I have read, meat prepared for pet food is almost always from sick or injured livestock. In other words, the stuff that cannot be sold for human consumption.
Second, family of disease has only been found so far in hooved animals (CWD in deer and elk, scrapie in sheep) and in humans.
It looks like dog food and dogs are safe from Mad Cow Disease, but, I would continue to monitor.