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1 posts from July 2007

07/17/2007

Pet Food Recall Advice

In the wake of the recent Menu Foods recall of millions of containers of pet food, concerned pet owners are seeking advice. Pet owners whose pets ate the contaminated food are panicked and wondering where to turn, and many pet owners across the country and beyond are considering how to feed their pets in the future.

Advice for those whose pets ate the recalled food:

1. Check the lot numbers and container dates on the Menu Foods website to ascertain whether your pet did indeed eat the tainted food.2. If your pet did eat any of the affected food, bring your pet to the veterinarian for blood and urine analysis immediately.

2. If your pet did eat any of the affected food, bring your pet to the veterinarian for blood and urine analysis immediately.Your veterinarian will perform blood and urine tests to determine if any kidney or other organ damage did occur.

3. KEEP any tainted food that you have, in sealed containers, for testing if necessary. Also keep all receipts, labels, and records of when and where you bought the food and when you fed it to your pet, as well as a record of any symptoms your pet has shown.

4. If your pet's blood test and/or urine test are abnormal, and your pet is acting sick (decreased or absent appetite, vomiting, weakness), your pet will likely need to be hospitalized for aggressive care in order to attempt to help the kidneys. This may require referral to an internal medicine specialist or to a facility with a veterinary Intensive Care Unit offering 24-hour care.

5. If your pet's blood and/or urine tests show mild kidney damage but your pet is acting fine, your veterinarian may elect to treat your pet with a prescription kidney diet or other outpatient care, and monitor the kidneys closely, for example with another blood test in a week, and then regular blood tests every 3-6 months after that.

Advice regarding what to feed your pet:

1. Immediately discontinue feeding any of the recalled foods.

2. Many owners are asking if they should feed their pets only dry food. It's important to realize that dry food could have just as easily been tainted, and contains grains even more often than wet foods do.

3. At this point, only the recalled foods are known to be affected. One option is to feed another food that is as similar as possible so that your pet will be likely to accept the new food. If your pet is used to moist food, there is no reason at all to switch to dry food. (See my previous blog regarding dry food for cats.) I personally prefer to use foods that do not contain by-products.

4. Some owners are also asking about cooking for their pets. This option is fine as long as you feed a diet that has been balanced by a veterinary nutritionist! Cats in particular are at high risk of nutrient imbalances or deficiencies, so it is very very important to feed a complete and balanced diet. One great website for homecooked diets for pets is petdiets.com. This website is run by board-certified veterinary nutrionists. I am not a fan of raw diets due to the very real risk of contamination with microorganisms or parasites, but balanced home-cooked diets are great if you have the time and energy.For other general advice and info, or any other questions regarding pet poisons or toxicity, you can call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-2245.

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