DOG owners have been issued an urgent warning over pet food which could prove deadly.
Experts have warned that raw dog foods could be poisonous to our furry friends because they contain dangerous doses of toxic metals.
New research from Cambridge University revealed that the safe limit of lead was exceeded in 77 per cent of uncooked food samples with pheasant as its main ingredient.
Researchers tested 90 samples of five different pheasant-based dog food products.
And they found concentrations to be 245 times over the limit in just one product, while two others were 135 and 49 times over, respectively.
Professor Debbie Pain, of Cambridge University’s Zoology Department, said: “We were already aware that lead concentrations in pheasant meat sold for human consumption are often far higher than would be permitted in other meats such as chicken, beef or pork.
“However, we were surprised to find that the lead concentrations in raw pheasant dog food products were so much higher.”
Lead concentrations above the maximum residue level were found in the dried pheasant-based product but at levels lower than those found in the raw pheasant meat.
Meanwhile, no chicken, goose or tinned pheasant samples contained any dangerous levels of lead.
The popularity of raw meat pet diets is currently surging across the UK, which is home to some 13 million dogs.
Despite the dietary danger, the lead shot can be used legally to kill game birds, such as pheasants, in the UK.
And researchers found that 34 per cent of 50 online raw pet food retailers sold pheasant-based recipes, with just over 70 per cent stating their products may contain “shot”.
Dogs eating food with such high concentrations of lead remains at risk of harm to their health, with puppies being particularly vulnerable due to their developing nervous system.
Lead poisoning can be very dangerous for both pets and humans, with high levels of the metal particles causing convulsions and even death.
When the meat is minced for pet food, small particles of lead are formed – increasing the chances for it to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Study co-author Professor Rhys Green said: “The fact that most samples from three randomly sampled raw pheasant pet food products had very high lead concentrations, and that our recent research on shot types used to kill pheasants found that 94 per cent are shot with lead, suggests that this is a far broader issue than for just these three products.
“However, some producers may source pheasants that have not been shot with leads, and owners can ask about this when buying pet food.”
It comes as another vet raised the alarm over five foods you should never give your pet.
Some of these culinary items are incredibly popular and are considered cooking staples.
And another animal expert revealed the reason why owners need to keep common bathroom items away from their dogs.
The pooch expert took to TikTok to explain the hidden dangers behind a seemingly innocent bath toy.