An Overview of Neospora Caninum and Raw Food Diets
Larry A. Bernstein, VMD
Natural Holistic Pet Care
January 21, 1998
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There has been a great deal of activity on lists and the internet concerning an organism call Neospora Caninum and its possible relation to canine encephalitis, myocarditis and paralysis. Since many holistic practitioners advocate a raw food diet, this has prompted me to create this initial monograph based on my research into the subject. This is preliminary as there is minimal literature on the subject and is based on my perceptions and conversations I have had with the experts in this area. It is informational only and should be used in conjunction with any other material that becomes available.
There is very little information in the literature concerning this organism as it relates to the dog. Much of the research has been in cattle and the abortions attributed to Neospora Caninum. Most of the reports have been case studies of dogs that have shown symptoms and discussion of treatment. Exploration on both NOAH (AVMA) and VIN (Veterinary Information Network) have shown less than 12 cases being posted since 1991. I also want to stress that this is not a new organism. I have seen case reports going back to the 1980s
The organism is a protozoon and seems related to coccidia, Toxoplasmosis and may fall into the same class as Sarcocystis neurona, the organism that is suspected of being the primary cause of Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM).
The main thrust of this document is to explore the question of raw food contamination and if that changes our perspective in recommending raw food diets to our holistic clients for their pets. There is a web page that will allow you to explore Sarcocystis and EPM in detail (http://prevmed.vet.ohio-state.edu/epm/comptext.htm).
We need to address this on several levels.
Is it a real problem? How prevalent is the organism? How serious is the disease? What are the probabilities of contracting the parasite? What steps can be taken to eliminate or limit our pets exposure.
In conclusion I feel that this parasite is real, but it has existed for many years and is not some new dreadful disease sweeping through our pets. It is something to be aware of but the precautions we are now taking (or should be) seem to be working and we should not allow this to dissuade us from our present dietary choices. To those of you who are wondering if it would be advisable to cook the meat, I feel you are better off freezing it for a 24-hour period. It should retain more of its nutritive quality during freezing than from cooking. To those of you who use other methods to detoxify meat to help prevent Salmonella, E. Coli, other bacteria and Toxoplasmosis, I say to continue that course.
If you take in a new pet, possibly an ill one or a rescue dog that has a weakened immune system or you are dealing with a new puppy, I think the freezing option is the best compromise. These would be the dogs that are most likely to contract this parasite.
Please remember that this was assembled quickly from the information available and is my best analysis of the situation based on all aspects of my medical training and experience. You must each do what you heart and experience tell you. I will continue to prescribe as I have been with some modifications. I will suggest freezing the meat for the younger animals and emphasize the use of grapefruit seed extract or food grade hydrogen peroxide for those clients that are not already doing this.
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