The investigation into contaminated pet food has until now focused on melamine contamination of ingredients imported from China, such as wheat gluten, and rice protein concentrate. Kidney crystal analysis of affected animals has revealed that they are approximately 70 percent cyanuric acid and 30 percent melamine, and are extremely insoluble – leading to the theory that a chemical reaction between melamine and cyanuric acid forms crystals that block kidney function. It is believed that cyanuric acid is formed as an animal metabolizes melamine. In addition, tests mixing melamine and cyanuric acid in samples of cat urine resulted in almost immediate formation of crystals that were identical to crystals found in the kidneys of affected animals.
While there are currently more than 12,000 reports of pets suffering from recall- related illnesses, only 16 deaths are confirmed as directly attributed to the contamination; and while over 90 brands have been recalled, this represents less than 2% of the pet food on the market. Furthermore, many of the brands have performed a proactive recall – meaning that there was no actual requirement for them to do so. Most affected cats and dogs are recovering through use of standard fluid therapy and supportive care. The contamination appears to have affected more cats than dogs. Meanwhile, the FDA continued to test wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein, and rice bran being imported from China for these contaminants.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that if you suspect that your pet has been affected by a recalled food you should retain food samples for analysis, make a note of the product details (and keep the packaging), and document when and how much food was eaten. The AVMA advises that signs of kidney failure include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in water consumption and also changes in urination.