Some Pet Meats Are Just Not Safe

Vets have long known about the risks of those supposedly ‘fresh’ meat products sold in supermarkets and pet stores. We share some of those concerns with you here.

Unfortunately despite recent media reports highlighting the risks, food recalls and campaigns by the RSPCA there are still many dogs and cats eating these diets and suffering the consequences.

Thiamine deficiency or vitamin B1 deficiency is a big concern for pet owners feeding ‘fresh meat’ diets marketed for use in pets. In any big supermarket there is a whole fridge full of mince, pet food rolls and other meats marketed for our domestic pets but unfit for human consumption.

The labelling requirements for pet foods are significantly different to those for human foods. This means that in order to save poor quality meat and stop it spoiling manufacturers can put unregulated amounts of preservatives in foods and it is not even necessary to state what preservatives the meat contains.

The problem with sulphur preservatives is that they cause thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiency. This essential water-soluble vitamin deficiency causes neurological disease. The signs will take days to weeks to occur and in the early stages are often are vague and non-specific, including gastrointestinal signs like weight loss and vomiting. As signs progress, cats often develop weakness, most obvious as a droopy neck. Dogs can often collapse, have a head tilt and may seizure.

Products that contain sulphur dioxide and potassium sulphite preservatives (sulphur dioxide 220, sodium sulphite 221, sodium bisulphite 222, sodium metabisulphite 223, potassium metabisulphite 224, potassium sulphite 225 and potassium bisulphite 228) are known to cause a deficiency in thiamine and in some cases can lead to significant neurological disease.

They are not permitted in human meats due to the link with allergies in humans. Even if these diets are mixed in with other foods, they can destroy the B1 present in the other food (even if not fed at the same time), leading to an overall deficiency.

To negate the risks of thiamine deficiency in your pets, check the labelling of any pre-prepared meat diets and if the expiry date is longer than what you would expect for meat, it probably is too good to be true. Feed your pets only meat fit for human consumption and buy only well-known recognised brands of pet food.