Animal lovers can breathe easy knowing the food they’re feeding their cats and dogs is safe. The Arizona Department of Agriculture just concluded its annual testing of dry cat and dog food. No traces of the naturally occurring toxins aflatoxin and fumonisin were found in the samples.
Recently, naturally occurring toxins were found in pet food that was manufactured in South Carolina, and shipped to 22 states, excluding Arizona. When consumed in food, these natural toxins cause severe liver damage.
“No positive samples were found,” said Katie Decker, department spokeswoman. “The samples were taken from a variety of stores in Yuma, Tucson and the Valley. These are products that can be found pretty much in any ‘big-box’ retail store or pet supply store.”
The samples included premium brands such as Eukanuba and Royal Canin, and more mainstream brands like Kibbles ‘n Bits and Friskies, she said.
“We go and do a sweep, and then we’ll go back and visit it sometime later,” Decker said. “We tested 20 different sites throughout the state, and it was random sampling. We just want to do this as a precautionary measure.”
The toxins come from fungus found on corn and other grains. Symptoms of ingesting the toxins include:
• Sluggishness or lethargy, combined with a reluctance to eat.
• A yellowish tint to the eyes and/or gums.
• Severe or bloody diarrhea.
“It’s something where people just want to keep an eye on their pet and if they are noticing signs or symptoms . . . you want to call your family veterinarian right away,” Decker said.
David Klein, lab manager in the state agriculture lab, said the toxins are fairly easy to detect with the right equipment.
“It’s not one of those things that you can tell just by looking at it,” he said. “We grind the food up into a real fine meal, and then we’ll extract them and analyze them. Every month we pick a different feed to test and we test for different (chemical compounds). This time it happened to be aflatoxin and fumonisin, and what played into that was the aflatoxin outbreak they had on the East Coast (late last year).”
The manufacturers test for the toxins, but sometimes they don’t detect them, Decker said.
“That’s where we can get in there and see if anything is happening,” she said.