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Pet Food Sickened Animal Treated at OSU Vet Hospital

Ohio State University's veterinary hospital is treating an animal that appears to have become ill from eating contaminated pet food. Canadian-based Menu Foods makes dog and cat food for dozens of brands in the United States.

Like many pet owners, Vicky West says she was concerned when she heard about the pet food recall, first announced by Menu Foods on March 17th. She gathered up all the cans she'd bought and took them back to the store.

"Petey is a 12-year-old Border Terrier and she has to eat a senior food and she only eats soft food because she has some gum issues," West says. "So it's very challenging to find a food that she likes."

The suspect food comes in cans or pouches and is moist, not dry. Fortunately for Petey, her favorites weren't on the recall list.

But another pet and owner were not so lucky. OSU veterinarian Lawren Durocher first saw a one-and-a-half-year-old cat last month. It was hospitalized for a week suffering from kidney failure. On Tuesday, Durocher says, the cat and her owner were back.

"At the time we never knew why he developed the renal failure and now that the pet food has been recalled the owner realized she's been feeding the pet food the entire time," Durocher says. "And today he came in when he was getting worse when he had been getting better. And she'd heard about the recall and she kind of put two and two together and realized that's what's been going on with the cat."

The cat is now in intensive care where Durocher is trying to restore kidney function. She's uncertain of the outcome but says it may always have chronic kidney problems.

Meanwhile OSU professor Tony Buffington, the clinical nutritionist for the university's veterinary hospital, says that as yet, the toxic ingredient has not yet been identified.

"There have been a number of screens of the food looking for toxins and other kinds of contamination and to my knowledge to date nothing has been found," Buffington says.

Vets advise closely monitoring a pet's health for signs of illness. OSU veterinarian Jane Flores says the first thing an owner should do is check the brand of food the animal is eating.

"We just ask that they make sure that the food is one the recall list," Flores says. "If it is, discontinue feeding that and give your veterinarian a call immediately."

What's surprising is the number of brand name pet foods that appear on the Menu Foods recall list. They range from Iams and Eukanuba to store brands like Wal-Mart's and Meijer's. The list is available on the internet at menufoods.com or at local pet supply retailers. But OSU's Tony Buffington says he thinks the majority of pet owners don't have much to worry about.

"It's only affecting a very small part of the pet food supply, just cans and pouches," Buffington says. So if they're feeding dry foods, large foods to their pets, there's nothing to be concerned about."