The broad reaches of melamine

Over at Deep Sea News, Craig has a heartbreaking story about the death of his dog a year ago, and it’s possible connection to the current pet food recall. I admittedly haven’t been paying very close attention to all the updates on this. I have two small dogs of my own, a 10-year-old chihuahua and a 8-month-old Boston terrier mix, and they both get boring dry food that hadn’t been implicated in the recall, so I tuned out a bit after assuming their food was safe. However, Craig’s post noted that this melamine spiking has been going on for as long as 15 years, and the American Veterinary Medical Association has an updated list of recalled foods.

Why I bring this up is because in 2005, my chihuahua had horrible pains after Christmas. She could barely walk, would yip in pain with every step, and had nasty diarrhea. When I realized she wasn’t getting any better, we took her in to the vet to get her checked out. Our vet suggested it was probably pancreatitis, and at that point, we stopped feeding her any soft food (previously she’d gotten occasional pouches of Mighty Dog–which is on the affected list). These symptoms can be caused just by fatty food, and so removing the soft food from her diet stopped the symptoms–but was it merely because of the food, or was it because the food was spiked with melamine? I suppose it doesn’t matter much for my dog–if she was poisoned, she’s since recovered, with no apparent permanent damage. But stories like Craig’s are a reminder that we’re not all so lucky, and that despite our best efforts and intentions, we can’t always protect the ones we love. My heart goes out to everyone who lost a friend due to this mess.

Comments

  1. #1 Ann Martin
    May 3, 2007

    As the author of Food Pets Die For: and Protect Your Pet: I have researched/investigated the commerical pet food industry for over 16 years. It has been clear that government has virtually no regulations within this industry and anything and everything is fair game for use in pet foods.
    Pet foods have contained wheat gluten and rice by-products for many years and with the recent massive recall you have to wonder for how many years contaminants from these grains have been going into pet foods. If pets were older and suffered from renal failure the owners would not question if it was a toxin in the food they were feeding that caused the problem. They would assume it was old age. Renal failure, even in younger animals, can be attributed to a number of causes so unsuspecting owners and even veterinarians would likely rule out the diet as the cause. There has been no information come to light as to how long the industry has been purchasing grains from China but it might be interesting to do a little digging and find out.

  2. #2 Margaret
    May 3, 2007

    15 years! About 10 years ago, my cat had a stroke and I switched from dry to canned food since he seemed to have lost his appetite. A year later, I had to have him put to sleep because of kidney failure. At the time, there didn’t seem to be any possible connection between stroke and kidney failure. The canned cat food may provide that link. The industry needs regulation, inspections, and some strong fines.

  3. #3 Jon
    May 3, 2007

    My cat died of kidney failure about 10 years ago. He was 11 years old. At the time, my vet said that cats who eat wet food tend to get kidney failure much more often than cats who eat dry food. I don’t remember if he gave a rationale. My questions: 1. Is there a real association between wet food and kidney failure in cats? 2. Could this association have been due to melamine doping all along?

  4. #4 bigTom
    May 3, 2007

    November my 9year old Rott died from a similar organ shutdown. Don’t have much clue what the cause was, but his digestive track had been weak for at least a year. The other two dogs are doing fine. I suspect there has probably been a low level of this sort of additional illness going on for many years.

    Tara: pancreatitis is pretty common in dogs, I had an animal with a pretty severe case about 30years ago, so it probably isn’t related to
    melamine spiking.

  5. #5 Becky Lundgren, DVM
    May 3, 2007

    The FDA’s Search For Pet Food Recalls page at
    http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/
    allows you to search by:
    – Brand Name (Example: Americas Choice, Authority)
    – UPC Code (Example: 54807-59114)
    – Product Description (Example: SL Beef/Gravy 24×5.5oz)
    – Container (Example: Pouch)
    – Any combination of: container, brand name, description, size (Example: Pouch Menu Beef/Gravy 24×5.5oz)
    The advantage of the FDA site is it is always more up to date than anyone else’s page.

    VeterinaryPartner.com keeps updating its recall page as well –
    http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?C=32&A=2528

  6. #6 Evil Monkey
    May 3, 2007

    I would not say that your chih– err, dirty sewer rat has escaped without permanent damage…. :D