By ANGELIQUE SERRAO
Dog owners are being asked to get their dogs to vets if they show any signs of being ill – after 12 dogs died last week from eating contaminated pet food.
The dogs died between Sunday and Wednesday, and they were found to have eaten pellets from three different brands of dog food found to be contaminated with a toxic fungus.
All three brands – Hi-Pro, Buddies and Legends – have factories in Brakpan and Roodepoort. The dogs died in the Pretoria area.
Barry Hundley, the executive director of the Pet Food Institute of Southern Africa, said the dogs died of aflatoxicosis, which is caused by a fungus.
He said the toxin attacks the liver and breaks it down. All the dogs admitted for the poisoning died. The toxin can cause vomiting and bleeding and is usually fatal.
The Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital sent out warnings to vets asking them to look out for any cases of aflatoxicosis.
Glenn Alexander lost three of his dogs to the contamination at the beginning of last week. On Twitter he spoke about how his three dogs died within two days. His Dalmatian died after being admitted to Onderstepoort.
Alexander described his dogs’ deaths as a major shock to the family.
“Three of our family dogs passed away within two days thanks to contaminated HiPro dog food,” tweeted Alexander. “Had two of the dogs for 14 years and the other dog four years.”
He posted pictures of his Dalmatian Demi and said he had been told of the nine other dogs who had died.
Hundley said the particular fungus that caused the deaths was commonly found living on oil seeds, like groundnut oil, or on maize.
“But the fungus could be in the food itself. If, for instance, the food gets wet or is heated up, the fungus could grow on the food.”
He said inspectors from the Department of Agriculture were being sent to the pet food plants to inspect the premises and were taking samples for testing.
“We have been sending warning letters to these brands asking them to join the institute so we can make sure things are safe,” said Hundley. They are small operators.”
He said the three brands were from small operators, but they still needed to establish whether the problem came from the pet food plant, or whether it was a retailer that was not storing the food properly.
“We are desperate to find out what is going on,” said Hundley. – The Star