Other Contaminants Might Be Behind Pet Deaths

The ASPCA's animal poison control center weighs in on the pet food recall.

Posted: March 29, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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Although aminopterin, an experimental cancer drug used as rodenticide in some foreign countries, was found in the tainted pet food recalled by Canadian-based Menu Foods March 16, other possible contaminants are not being ruled out.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) both say other contaminants are possible. In the last week, the ASPCA says, its Animal Poison Control Center has received a flood of cat cases related to the recall, but the animals’ symptoms are not consistent with a diagnosis of ingesting aminopterin.

“We’ve seen reports coming in from all around the country that animals that were eating the contaminated foods are definitely suffering from renal failure. But the data that we’ve been collecting do not conclusively prove this connection,” said Veterinary Toxicologist Steven Hansen, DVM, DABVT, the Animal Poison Control Center’s senior vice president.

Hansen and the ASPCA are urging veterinarians and investigators to continue their analysis of the recalled pet foods for additional contaminants.

Little is known about the drug’s effects on animals, but the ASPCA and other veterinarians are using what they know about this class of drugs to determine their response. “Aminopterin has been used to treat cancer in people, since it is able to disrupt rapidly-growing cells,” Hansen said. “In animals, it should result in effects that mimic this function, and these include bloody diarrhea, bone marrow suppression, abortion and birth defects. Further, renal damage — which has been seen in the affected animals — can occur at high doses.

“However, to be consistent with the effects of aminopterin, we should also be seeing a significant number of affected pets showing the accompanying signs of severe intestinal damage, as well as bone marrow suppression, including ‘leukopenia,’ which is a serious reduction in white blood cells,” he said.

The FDA’s top veterinarian, Stephen F. Sundlof, DVM, also sounded a cautious note about the aminopterin discovery. “While we are very interested in the discovery of this compound, we want to make sure all possible causes have been ruled out before confirming any one particular cause,” he said.

Any animal that ate the contaminated foods — a full list of the recalled brands is here — should take their pet to a veterinarian immediately.

If your pet suffered ill effects from eating the recalled food, click here to report it to the FDA, which is leading the investigation.

To see all of CatChannel's pet food recall updates, click here.

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Other Contaminants Might Be Behind Pet Deaths

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Reader Comments

lisa    wilmington, OH

3/29/2007 11:30:07 PM

The Article was fairly informative. Thank you for
printing it and all your doing to try to keep us pet owners up to date. I think it is an awlful thing what someone has done to this pet food to make poor, innocent animals sick and some even die.
I hope they catch the person, or person's behind this and justice be served!!! Pet owners all over the world would agree with me on this.

lisa    wilmington, OH

3/29/2007 11:29:29 PM

The Article was fairly informative. Thank you for
printing it and all your doing to try to keep us pet owners up to date. I think it is an awlful thing what someone has done to this pet food to make poor, innocent animals sick and some even die.
I hope they catch the person, or person's behind this and justice be served!!! Pet owners all over the world would agree with me on this.

Robert    wilmington, OH

3/29/2007 11:28:55 PM

The Article was fairly informative. Thank you for
printing it and all your doing to try to keep us pet owners up to date. I think it is an awlful thing what someone has done to this pet food to make poor, innocent animals sick and some even die.
I hope they catch the person, or person's behind this and justice be served!!! Pet owners all over the world would agree with me on this.

Glynnis    Baton Rouge, LA

3/29/2007 2:14:23 PM

Remind me not to borrow their recipe for pet food. It is bad enough not to realize rat poison is in the food...now there is most likely something else? Who was doing the inspections??

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