Though there are some suspected cases, there has not been any verified animal deaths resulting from the recently recalled pet food produced by Menu Foods, say local veterinarians.
March 17 the Canada-based company announced a precautionary recall of the "cuts and gravy" variety of pet food sold in cans and pouches that was manufactured between Dec. 3, 2006, and March 6.
The recall affects 48 brands of dog food and 40 brands of cat food that were sold throughout North America by major retailers like Wal-Mart, Kroger and PetSmart.
The recall was initiated after multiple consumer complaints and nine cats died from renal failure during rounds of routine taste tests conducted by the manufacturer, said a press release issued by the FDA
An unknown number of cats and dogs have suffered from kidney complications after eating the food. Menu Foods has reported 14 animal deaths to the FDA.
Dr. Donna Shaw with Shaw's Veterinary Clinic said she has treated two dogs that she suspects might have been related to the recalled food. "We've seen a couple suspicious cases in the past few weeks," she said.
Shaw said both dogs died from kidney failure, but there was no way to prove their deaths were linked to the food. "The food's been in circulation for awhile, and the dogs were treated before the recall was announced," she said. "Had we known about this, an autopsy would be the only way to prove the food as the culprit."
Dr. Robert Mills with the North Arkansas Veterinary Hospital said kidney problems are not an uncommon problem, but he has treated one dog whose illness he suspects could be linked to the tainted food.
"From our standpoint we haven't seen an increase in animals with renal failure," Mills said. "However, we treated one lady's dog that suddenly became incontinent, and he had been eating a food on the list."
Menu Foods CEO and President Paul Henderson has publicly apologized for the upset the recall has generated. He said researchers from Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine and the New York State Food Laboratory found traces of a toxin often used as rat poison called aminopterin March 23.
An FDA spokesperson said how the toxin got into the food remains a mystery; however, researchers are focusing on the protein-rich wheat gluten that was purchased from a new supplier. Since the discovery Menu Foods has dropped the supplier.
If a pet has been eating the contaminated food and begins to show signs of renal failure, like a loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, sudden changes in water consumption or a loss of bladder control, contact a veterinarian immediately.