Feeding offal to dogs and preventing hydatids

Hydatids are larvae that form cysts in the organs of livestock and people. Find out about how you can prevent their spread in New Zealand by following the rules when you feed offal to dogs.

What are hydatids?

Hydatids are the larvae of the dog tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. They 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. Dogs get the parasite when they eat offal from infected livestock.

Why rules are needed

Although the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) declared New Zealand "provisionally free" from hydatids in 2002, they used to be a serious health issue here. 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 comes from a processor who is approved to sell such a product in NZ.

To treat offal, you can either:

  • boil it for at least 30 minutes, or
  • freeze it to minus 10°C or colder, and keep 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 the business (under the Biosecurity Act 1993).

Controlled area notice in respect of Echinococcus granulosus (Hydatids) (Notice No. 294) [PDF, 419 KB]

Who to contact

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

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