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Veterinary Forum December 2007 (Vol 24, No 12)

Deadly combo implicated in pet food recall

    Two chemicals found in recalled pet food during spring 2007 are relatively harmless alone but, if combined, can create a deadly mix when consumed by cats, report researchers at the University of California, Davis.

    Cats that were fed pet food spiked with both melamine and cyanuric acid suffered acute kidney failure, while cats that were fed food with either chemical alone saw no ill effects, according to the study published recently in the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.

    Melamine, a chemical mainly used to produce certain resins and fertilizers, was the prime suspect during the investigation into this year's pet food recall, but investigators also found cyanuric acid in the recalled pet food. Cyanuric acid is used in swimming pools and hot tubs to slow the breakdown of chlorine in the water.

    Scientists suspected that both melamine and cyanuric acid played a role in the illnesses of animals that ate the recalled pet food; however, there was no information on the toxicity of the two chemicals in combination.

    Veterinary toxicologist Birgit Puschner, PhD, and colleagues at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in the Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found that cats receiving melamine and cyanuric acid developed fan-shaped crystals in their urinary tracts. The cats also had extensive damage to their kidneys within 12 hours after eating the spiked food.

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