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Recent pet food toxicities in Western Australia

Paul, A., FitzGerald, L., Fletcher, M., Bell, E., Sharman, M., Irwin, P.ORCID: 0000-0002-0006-8262, Foster, S., Cave, N., O'Hara, A. and Mansfield, C. (2010) Recent pet food toxicities in Western Australia. In: ACVSc College Science Week, 1 - 3 July, Gold Coast, Queensland.


Three series of severe pet food associated toxicoses were diagnosed during 2009 in Western Australia. Five cases of clinical hepatotoxicity were diagnosed in dogs fed a commercial elimination diet of camel meat and sweet potato for atopic skin disease. These dogs all had detectable blood levels of indospicine, a toxic non-protein amino acid, isolated from Indigofera linnaei, a plant grazed by camels. Histological lesions in these dogs were consistent with previously reported lesions in dogs fed horse meat concentrated with indospicine. Four dogs exclusively fed a commercial pet diet available at supermarkets presented with marked neurological signs and were diagnosed with thiamine deficiency due to sulphur preservatives in the food. Two cats exclusively fed a commercial cat food diet available at supermarkets, were diagnosed with hypercalcaemia due to excessive vitamin D. The pet food was tested, and found to have high vitamin D concentrations. This diet was exclusively fed to the cats, with no other potential source of toxicity.

Conclusion: These cases highlight that not all animals’ fed a diet will develop clinical disease and that an accurate description of an animal’s diet and feeding plan are a mandatory component of disease investigation. It is also possible that a significant number of pet food toxicities go unrecognized. Pet food should be considered as a potential source of toxins and a cause of clinical disease, and these cases support tighter regulation of the pet food industry.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
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