The pet food recall
Since March 16, more than 5,600 pet food items have been recalled after it was discovered that the chemical melamine, found in imported wheat gluten, rice gluten and corn gluten, has been making thousands of pets sick.
4,867 pets (2,527 cats and 2,365 dogs) have been reported (by owners) as deceased, and the total number of affected pets reported has been 14,750, as of May 16, 2007.
The Pet Food Recall is a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Never in our history have so many pets died and developed illness as a result of Pet Food. The Pet Food companies have lost our trust. This scandal is producing more questions than answers, and NO ONE is standing up and telling the Truth.
Initial reports suggested that aminopterin, a rodenticide not used in the US or Canada, could be the causal agent – but this was not proven by subsequent testing, and is currently being discounted by the FDA. Melamine, a non-protein nitrogen fertilizer (used in China) and component of plastics such as formica is currently the most likely suspect compound because it has been found in the affected gluten and foods.
The specific toxin in the contaminated protein ingredients (gluten, rice protein concentrate) has not been completely identified. Overall, the 4 substances that have been identified include melamine, amiloride, amilorine and cyanuric acid. Testing in 3 laboratories has identified cyanuric acid in the contaminated food and in crystals from cat urine. In fact, analysis of melamine cyanurate crystals shows a close match to crystals obtained from cat urine – this has allowed for a tentative identification of melamine as the culprit.
Cyanuric Acid is commonly used as a chlorine stabilizer in swimming pools. The ‘CYA test’ to determine the concentration of cyanuric acid in pool water uses melamine as a reagent to form a white insoluble precipitate. The damage happens when Melamine combines with Cyanuric Acid to form melamine cyanurate crystals, resulting in kidney damage and the other associated signs.
This may explain the problem, but what can you as a pet owner do about it? How can you protect your pet from the Pet Food Recall, or treat your pet if they’ve consumed contaminated, recalled food?
If your pet has consumed contaminated food, the first thing you should be aware of is the signs of Pet Food Toxicity.
Affected individuals often vomit soon (1-12 hours) after ingesting the food. Some become anorectic and lethargic. Some salivate and have oral ulcerations. Weakness and blood in the urine has also been reported.
Some general signs to watch out for include your cat or dog drinking more water and urinating more often. Your pet may be losing weight, specifically loss of muscle mass, as the kidneys lose protein. As kidney failure advances, your pet may become weak due to anemia. He may have a decreased appetite due to a buildup of toxins in the blood stream. In advanced cases, he will be dehydrated and completely off food. In some pets, kidney disease causes elevated blood pressure, which may affect his eyesight.
Here are a few things you can do if you see any of the above signs. First of all, see your Veterinarian. If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, have your pet’s blood and urine tested. In some cases, an ultrasound may be needed to confirm the disease.
At home, the most important thing that you can do for your pet is to maintain adequate hydration. Offer lots of fresh water. If your cat isn’t a great water drinker, then make the switch to (safe) canned food.
Another thing you can do is to lower the protein and phosphorus levels your pet receives. Newer research has shown that the most important thing to restrict in early kidney failure is phosphorus. This mineral speeds up destruction of the remaining kidney cells. Stop all dairy products as they are very high in phosphorus. Feed a specific, moderately reduced protein diet, such as a premium quality senior diet, in the early stages. As kidney failure advances, switch to a restricted protein diet, available from your veterinarian – or use a specific home made diet that is low in protein and phosphorus.
A third treatment you can offer is to add Omega 3 fatty acids to your pet’s diet. The Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil are shown to delay the progression of kidney failure. The dose is one 250mg capsule per 10 lbs of body weight daily.
This article is an excerpt from an online seminar I held on the Pet Food Recall. If you would like a copy of the seminar, in video format, please see my bio and follow the link provided – the seminar (and website) is called the Pet Food Recall Report. I’ve included several home diets and more treatments you can offer your pet, as well as my suggestions for safe commercial foods. I also discuss feeding raw food to your pet as a safe alternative.