Can dogs get mad cow disease?
No. With the exception of cats, no pets (companion animals) are known to be susceptible to the infectious agent that causes BSE in cattle. No evidence of BSE has ever been found in dogs, horses, birds, or reptiles.
There is concern that it will eventually end up in the dog food because, as almost everyone has heard, there has been one confirmed case in the United States—previously, it was in the United Kingdom only.
WHAT IS MAD COW DISEASE
Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE,
is a neurological disorder that primarily affects cattle. It is caused by an infection that attacks the cow’s central nervous system, and it’s aptly named, since it basically turns the mind into a sponge.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mad cow disease likely originated because of the practice of feeding the cattle infected meat and bone meal. Mad cow disease was of particular concern in the 1990s. In 1993, the CDC confirmed nearly 1,000 new cases of the disease every week in the United Kingdom.
Red meat is a staple in commercial dog food, the present method of mechanically stripping the meat from the bones allows for particles of spinal tissue and other suspect tissues to remain in the meat. It can also be present in meat and bone meal and meat by-products.
The FDA regulates pet food for America’s more than 177 million dogs, cats, and horses and, in April 2009, the FDA took additional steps to make sure the food in the U.S. stays safe. Certain high-risk cow parts are not allowed to be used to make any animal feed, including pet food. This prevents all animal feed from being accidentally contaminated with the abnormal prion. High-risk cow parts are those parts of the cow that have the highest chance of being infected with the abnormal prion, such as the brains and spinal cords from cows that are 30 months of age or older.