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Feeding sick animals to pets never good idea

BY Randy Zellers

ON 03-28-2018


March 28, 2018

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK – It’s not uncommon for rabbit dogs, squirrel dogs and even the family feline to enjoy some of the spoils of hunting season, but owners should be careful not to give their pets and working dogs meat from animals they know to be infected or diseased.

“We have had a few people ask if they could give the meat from a deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease to their pets,” said Jennifer Ballard, wildlife veterinarian for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “They hate to see the meat go to waste, and so do I, but it’s just not a good idea to give your pets anything that you know is sick or has some kind of infection.”

Ballard says that there has never been a documented case of CWD being transmitted under natural conditions to dogs, cats or livestock, but laboratory experiments have demonstrated a theoretical possibility in some species, including cats, using artificial methods of exposure.

CWD is a fatal disease of deer and elk caued by misfolded proteins known as prions. Prions are shed in the saliva, urine, feces and other bodily fluids of infected animals, and are prevalent in tissues of the nervous system, eyes, brain and spleen. They are highly resistant to temperature extremes and can persist for long periods of time in the environment once shed from the host animal.

Prions can pass through the digestive systems of carnivores and remain intact. By bringing CWD-positive meat home and allowing your pet to distribute it through their feces, you may be introducing the disease to new areas and helping it spread further in the state.

Ballard also points out that sick deer may be infected with multiple pathogens, not just CWD, and some of those pathogens may be able to infect livestock or pets if introduced to them through their diet.

“It’s just not a good idea to feed any sort of meat to your animals that you know came from sick or diseased wildlife,” Ballard said. “Even if the deer looked healthy but tested positive for CWD, I would strongly reccomend that you dispose of the meat properly. We can help people with incinerating and burying materials infected with CWD if they give us a call.”

Visit for more information on chronic wasting disease and what the AGFC is doing to slow its spread in The Natural State.


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