One negative side of dry foods - That they don’t tell you about, Until the feces hits the fan!

You may have seen in the news recently and over social media about the 70+ dogs that have died due to aflatoxin poisoning.

For those of you that don’t know, Aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens and mutagens that are produced by certain molds(Mycotoxins:Aspergillus species) which grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains.

It seems the alarm was pulled by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) in December 2020 when they had reports of 28+ dogs dying from consuming a particular brand of pet food, the company behind the brand immediately issued recalls for products potentially affected (Standard procedure as part of their HACCP*Hazard And Critical Control Points*)

Then in January , the FDA updated the figures to show at least 70 dogs were killed and at least another 80 were under veterinary care, so that's 150+ Dogs affected due to this.

Now this isn’t a new thing, it’s just something that’s easily swept under the rug until recent years now social media can spread news for free and instantly, so now there’s more Public Relations work that these brands have to fit in.

There was a study done in 2018 “Mycotoxin Issues in Pet Food” which listed a chronological outbreak of recalls due to Aflatoxsins, but it doesn’t mention brands just the location of the outbreak and what strains were found.

1993: Iowa, US

1994: North Carolina, US

1997: Slough, UK

2001: Mexico

2001: Texas ,US

2002: Brazil

2002: Turkey

2003: Portugal

2004: Poland

2008: Brazil

2009: Argentina

2015: Italy

You can see it’s not something that just affects one country for a unique mitigating factor, this is something that affects the globe because all dry foods have the same common flaw, Grains and Rendered Fats, this creates a perfect breeding ground for these fungi these outbreaks have been going on since the 1950’s (on record) but they wasn’t sufficient conclusions made until 1994 ((Bradburn et al., 1994; Asao et al., 1963)

This is why manufacturers recommend you store the dry foods in airtight containers in a cool and dry/dark place, because if you didn’t you're increasing the risk of these aflatoxins growing. (Have you ever even seen the storage recommendations on the labelling?)

So what are the symptoms?

According to the FDA: Sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage), unexplained bruising or bleeding, and/or diarrhea and in the worst case, Death.

The variation of these symptoms will differ from dog to dog largely depending on the level of aflatoxins that have been consumed and the age/weight and overall health of the dog. Cats, Rats, Ferret and Bird food are also at risk, they’re equally susceptible as they also can be given dry foods as a staple diet.

So why do we mention this?

This is just one reason why fresh foods are superior for your pets, the scaremongering is quite high when it comes to feeding pets raw meats, but now you’ve read this , don’t you think the fear of bacterial /fungal growth is more realistic with dry foods, the foods are kept at an ambient temperature allowing strains to go forth and multiply, while Raw foods are frozen or chilled?

It’s not just Aflatoxins you have to worry about with dry foods either but those very same pathogens that raw diets are slammed for can also be present in dry foods, for example in 2002 according to the CDC, diamond pet foods had to recall their product due to Salmonella being present and hospitalising some owners from various parts of the US and Canada.

You don’t hear this everyday now do you?

So do what’s best, feed fresh foods!

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1.Mycotoxin Issues in Pet Food: Atungulu, Griffiths & Mohammadi Shad, Zeinab & Wilson, Shantae. (2018). Mycotoxin Issues in Pet Food. 10.1016/B978-0-12-811835-1.00002-6.