04/03/07 — Pet food recalls troubling residents

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Pet food recalls troubling residents

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 3, 2007 2:02 PM

Veterinarian Terry Frazier has switched his dogs at home to Pedigree and might clear out all the Hill's Pet Nutrition from his office.

He is one of many pet owners who are watching the news to see which foods will be taken off the safe list next.

Recalls involving foods from several manufacturers have made the news, with a whole new group -- Del Monte Pet Products and Nestle Purina PetCare -- adding voluntary recalls to the list this weekend. Menu Foods, which accounts for a large number of pet food brands, was the first to call for some of its gravy and cuts meals to be pulled from the shelves. Hill's has also removed one of its formulas.

Tests on recalled pet foods have revealed contamination from Melamine, a chemical used to make counter tops. Cats appear to be more sensitive to it than dogs, officials are saying, which is accounting for the larger numbers of feline deaths.

The contaminated wheat gluten is believed to have come from a supplier in China -- and could be part of other pet foods, officials say.

In the meantime, pet owners like Dr. Frazier are trying to stay up-to-date on the latest recalls.

"Some of my clients are afraid to even give canned dog food to their pets," he said. "I'm feeding Pedigree to the dogs I have here."

He keeps an eye on the Pedigree Web site every day -- just in case.

He said he might already have lost a client's pet to the contaminated food, and his personal cat, which was eating out of the same Prescription Diet m/d Feline bag at his office, stays with him at work under careful watch.

His cat is diabetic but was doing well at 11.5 pounds until he started losing weight rapidly. By February, the cat had lost three pounds in three months. His insulin levels were fine.

But Frazier's cat is now in renal failure.

The veterinarian said the patient's cat had a similar breakdown in January.

The owner was shocked at the sudden change in health.

"Her cat had appeared to be healthy, and boom," he said.

He said the woman called him after the recalls began in March and asked if she might have gotten contaminated food.

"She doesn't have any of the food left. She has no recourse now," Frazier said. "I don't care what they say. You can't get it back. You can't change renal failure. I hope to God Pedigree doesn't change. ... Thank God we got him off the prescription. He might not be here today."

He said he's keeping the unfinished bag of suspect food in his office.

"It irks me that a company like Hill's that charges a lot of money for its food and supposedly does extensive research has to order something contaminated out of China to save a few pennies. You just don't know who to believe any more. I think a lot is yet to come out of this."

Gloria Sanders at Pet Supplies Plus on Berkeley Boulevard had pulled all of the products on her recall list and is taking suspect pet foods from customers who bring them in to her.

"If they're not sure, we're having them bring it back," she said Monday morning. "It's not just one certain flavor. There's a list. It's mainly canned foods, but Hill's is pulling one of its prescription dry foods. This gluten has gone into tons of different products."

She said she has pulled some but not all of the items from brands like Hill's, Nutro, Purina, Iams and Eukanuba.

For information on the recalled foods, call Proctor and Gamble's PetCare for Iams and Eukanuba at 1-800-882-1591, Hill's at 1-800-445-5777, Menu at 1-866-895-2708, Alpo at 1-800-218-5898 or Del Monte at 1-800-949-3799.