Has melamine been determined to actually CAUSE illness in pets?


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Our question this week was:

Dear Dr. Debra,

Thanks for all the info you provide and your updates on pet food recall. I know that all the foods you listed have been found to contain melamine. Do you have the information on what foods actually caused the renal failure? Has the melamine been determined to actually CAUSE the damage or could it be a factor ASSOCIATED with the food. Note the difference. The press doesn't understand terms like dose-relatedness, causative vs.
associated factor, etc. Look forward to hearing what you have heard.

Sue Chan, DVM


Hi – thanks for your email. You ask some very good questions. The "recalled" list has not differentiated the foods that are or have actually caused problems from foods that they are not sure about and therefore are recalling anyway. For example, I believe there are some foods mixed in a processor that had contaminated food, and although that food was not contaminated, they are recalling it "just in case".

You are right that the recalled foods are thought to either contain melamine or potentially be contaminated with melamine. It has not been determined with any certainty that the melamine is the actual agent causing pets to become ill. It could be the melamine or it could be something completely different. This is still an open question.

What is known is that cats seem to be more sensitive. The "dose-relatedness" and other questions are also unknown at this time. More unanswered questions than actual answers.

I'm sorry that I don't have more information for you at this time. I think more information will be released as time goes on and it is known. I'll work hard to keep you updated as the information becomes available.

I hope your pets were not affected by the recall.


Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for PetPlace.com, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.