Is this safe to feed

Hi to all

My question is: Is it safe for a dog to consume feed with lead in it?

My answer would be “NO”, but i’m no expert. So are there any food experts out there that know the safe levels of Pb micro milligrams per kg bodyweight relating to combustion by dogs as opposed to humans.

I have an 20 month old Lagotto Romagnolo bitch that I have always fed white label kibble and various brand frozen raw foods. However although she as been previously fed game meat from a few producers with no issues to note, with a brand I was recently recommended to try, I found lead shot remaining in the feed bowl following the dog consuming the pheasant mince.

On contacting the company concerned seeking assurances on product safety, they replied with the following:

“We do state on our game products that’s this can happen however on a scale of how much we produce it is a rarity, most dogs will eat around it and leave it in the bowl I can only apologise for the inconvenience.”

I know most answers would be, stop feeding her this product, but it is only in their game meats. Their range of other meats is really good.

I’m just looking for facts about lead in animal food and possibilities of health issues from regular consumption.

Happy new year!


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Hello and welcome to the forum. I have fed my dogs pheasant although it was cooked, not raw. It too contained a warning that it might contain shot. I just checked it carefully as I dished it out and didn’t see any. I can see your point about the lead content. The actual pellet would probably pass through the gut fairly quickly but I assume you are concerned about lead leaching into the food. Is that right? This is a question that I can’t answer because I do not know how much lead is contained in the pellets and how much exposure the dog would have if the food did contain them and was actually swallowed. I don’t know if David has more information but I have written to ask him to look at your post. In general, I take the view that we pet owners need to be comfortable with the food that we give to our dogs so my advice would be not to feed it if you are unsure.

Thanks for the reply Dottie.

Please bear with me on posts as this is the first time I have ever done this. I’ve never been on any social media platforms either, (old git).

As stated on the original post, I expected a “don’t feed it” response, but was really interested if there was any professionals (eg Veterinary Medicine Directoret), with scientific research knowledge. That’s being really optimistic though as there isn’t much data on safety of lead ingested in the human diet never mind pet food.

Following reading up on human lead consumption on a few sites, main one being: level consumers of lead shot in wild game meat, it led me to wonder if the pheasant mince dog food I gave my dog, would pose a significant health risk if I continued using it.

The company did say it was a rare incidence, but I do wonder, being as this was the very first time I had used their pheasant mince and although their reply stated they warn this can happen on their game product packaging, there was no warning other than “not for human consumption” on the 454g packaging I bought.

This post is probably too deep & doesn’t warrant the effort involved in finding answers, but my dog is my family & if there is food that could damage her health, I would like to know facts about product and process, risks posed and everyone to be aware.

ps: noticed the predictive text in the original message consumption not combustion

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Thank you for your reply. You have done well with your first foray into forums/social media. As you say, the question is not one that is easily answered, at least not by me as I have zero knowledge about shot and lead content, never mind toxic doses. I am hopeful that companies would not sell the product if they knew it was unsafe and it’s useful to remember that pheasant is used for human consumption, albeit cooked.

As mentioned, my two have had pheasant stew and I trust the company who make it so I was happy to feed it. As it is cooked I assume that the chefs would spot any shot so it is a kind of quality control but with raw it is possibly different. Pheasant is a good, low fat source of protein and I have enough confidence to continue to feed pheasant stew as soon as it comes back into stock but will obviously have a look to ensure there is no shot in it. When available they have it between two and five days per month.

If you cannot get the information you require then you may need to decide whether you are comfortable with feeding pheasant long term. However, variety is key in providing a good diet for your dog and as you are not feeding pheasant every day but as part of a varied diet then you might feel that the risk of some lead being present is not too problematic.

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Lead-shot game
Habits and behaviours of high-level consumers of lead-shot wild-game meat in Scotland.


Thank you so much for taking the time to find those links Seaweed. A little light reading for me on this snowy afternoon. :slight_smile:

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It seems there is a move to phase out lead shot, a web search “ban lead shot uk” will bring the info. The video "Lead shot: behind the ban " (Feb 26,2020) is interesting.

Thanks for the interest Seaweed.

That’s the report I mentioned on my earlier post, but being an old git & new to this I didn’t copy and paste the link, (and don’t know how to paste it as a live link).

I’ve read several items on the subject online, with material from both the shooting community and various world agencies. I know waterfowl cannot be shot with lead, but game which include rabbit, venison, pheasant and several other birds can. All found in dog food but not all are wild, some would be factory farmed and killed.

On reading of the dangers posed by lead in food, ( that’s trace elements ), I then started looking at the weight of No 7 lead shot to see what this would equate to when applied to the Pb µ/kg body weight guideline for safe consumption by humans. I won’t post my workings as I may be wrong, but it scared me to think if shot remained in the food and I only fed it to the dog once a month, it still far exceeded recommended levels I read up on for human consumption. Being as my dog is still growing, that makes it an even bigger risk.

I have relatives that hunt and who, along with their dogs, have a good percentage of game meat in their diet. Have they suffered any effects from lead poisoning? I wouldn’t make a comment, you’d have to meet them and draw your own conclusions.

I did try to respond to the reply earlier but the post would’t send because of an external link I tried posting.

I have looked at the links and it seems that it is heavy consumers of game that is of most concern. Did I get that right? However, my original comment about not feeding something that you are not comfortable with still stands. If a dog did ingest a pellet it would it not pass through the gut fairly quickly, thus lessening the risk of toxicity? I don’t know tbh.

The study related to heavy consumers of game because they would be most likely to have ingested lead. As previously stated, trace elements of lead not visible to the eye found in food from canning and other processes, nothing to do with lead shot, were deemed a risk to health.

My point is that fragments of lead from shot and even whole shot in the meat would give cause for concern if it was not found in the products preparation for sale. I have stated previously that I add the raw food to a kibble main feed as a supplement, regularly varying both kibble and raw food. A down side to this is that the company involved say their game products could be affected, which would mean that pheasant, rabbit, quail, venison and wild boar could potentially be sources of contamination, all of which, apart from wild boar, I have purchased. Shooting of geese and ducks with lead as not been allowed this millennium but from sources up to Feb 2020, lead as been found in 70% of ducks available from game dealers.

We are only just beginning to come up with a better understanding & guidance for lead levels in the human diet, so for lead in food that will not end up in the human food chain, I dread to think about who we can trust.

Ingesting lead affects animal health.

Apologies for going round in circles. Maybe I should leave it, but the products are on the AADF website.


You have raised interesting and useful points about feeding wild game and the consumption of lead. Because I don’t feed raw food or game I had not considered this issue so I am grateful for drawing our attention to the issue. Thank you.


Hi Lagottolove and many thanks for raising this very interesting topic and thank you to Dottie and Seaweed for the insights you have been able to uncover. I had honestly never given much thought to lead contamination of meats but you are quite right that it is worrying.

As you have found, there have not been many studies into the implications of lead shot in meats even for human consumption, let alone out pets so drawing any concrete conclusions is difficult. However, according to this study from 2016 “a daily dose of around 1 mg lead as lead acetate/kg body weight for ten days may be considered as a Lowest Observed Effect Level in dogs” and they conclude that “feeding dogs trimmings of lead-shot game may represent a risk of lead intoxication”, although they do go on to say that more studies are needed to assess the exact consequences.

With this in mind, it would certainly seem wise to keep game meats as a fairly small and occasional part of the overall diet, at least until we know more or until lead shot is outlawed for game hunting. I’ll have to include some kind of footnote on any applicable products we feature on the site. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.


Hi David. Thanks for giving the post your time.

Interesting reading, especially some of the citations after the report. Lagotto Romagnolo can suffer from Juvenile Epilepsy so the last article on Lead Poisoning eventually found in a dog mimicking epilepsy was interesting. The thing in the main report which hit me though, was that in the equation for safe Pb/Kg bodyweight, the lead content was given in milligrams, whereas in the equations I’ve seen in reports for safe human consumption of lead, the Pb content is shown in micrograms µ, with with figures over 1000 x smaller than in the Norwegian authors paper.

All about dog food is a fantastic site and hopefully will become known to the majority of cynophiles. It feels good to know that the more people who use the hard work put in by you to care for their dogs welfare, the greater influence it can have on the producers. You including a footnote to feed covered by this post should also assist in better knowledge and ultimately better end product.

This is probably as far as this post goes, so although i’ll keep looking, thank you to everyone that had an input

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Laggotolove - I am grateful to you for raising this topic; I hadn’t considered it before. You have obviously read about it in some depth. For now, I will probably avoid feeding wild game in case it has been killed using lead shot.
Thank you.

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Government set to ban lead pellets: Is it the last blast for lead shot? Biggest shake-up in 500 years for game shooting as ban looms on ‘toxic’ ammunition.


People eating pheasant killed by lead shot are unwittingly consuming toxic fragments - even if the meat has been carefully prepared by a butcher, study claims.


Lead concentrations in commercial dogfood containing pheasant in the UK.