Feeding offal to dogs

Hydatids are parasites that form cysts in the organs of livestock and people. Although MPI believes New Zealand is now free from hydatids, we have rules around feeding offal to dogs to prevent them from re-establishing here. Find out about hydatids and the rules to keep them out.


Why rules are needed

Although MPI declared New Zealand 'provisionally free' from hydatids in 2002, they used to be a serious health issue here. Hydatids are parasites that form cysts in the organs (especially the liver and lungs) of livestock and people. In humans, hydatid cysts cause illness and occasionally death.

Hydatids are the larvae of the dog tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. Dogs get the parasite when they eat offal from infected livestock. The parasite needs to infect dogs to complete its lifecycle and reproduce.

Hydatids could get back into New Zealand in imported livestock. In case they do, we have rules around feeding offal to dogs to break the parasite's lifecycle and stop it from spreading.

Rules to prevent the spread of hydatids

The rules around feeding offal to dogs apply throughout New Zealand.

Treat offal before feeding to dogs

Don't feed offal from livestock (such as sheep, pigs, goats, cattle, deer, horses, llamas and alpacas) to dogs unless you've treated it (to kill the parasite), or it came from a processor with an MPI-registered risk management programme.

Treat offal by either:

  • boiling it for at least 30 minutes
  • freezing it to minus 10 degrees Celsius, or colder, and keeping it at that temperature for at least 10 days.

Control your dogs

Control any dogs in your care so they can't access and eat untreated offal or animal carcasses.

Dispose of dead animals quickly and carefully

Dispose of dead animals as soon as possible so that dogs can't eat them. Suitable ways to dispose of dead animals include:

  • burying in a fenced-off or covered pit
  • burning.

If you don't follow the rules

The whole of New Zealand is currently under a Controlled Area Notice (CAN) for hydatids. If you don't comply with rules in the CAN, you could face up to 3 months in prison or be fined up to $50,000 for an individual, or $100,000 for a company (under the Biosecurity Act 1993).

Controlled Area Notice for hydatids [PDF, 419 KB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about the rules around feeding offal to dogs, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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