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Another argument against corn in dog food


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A friend of mine sent this out. Apparently her veterinary office shared this post with her.


Food for thought (pun intended!)





Windy Hollow Veterinary Clinic · 115 like this
11 minutes ago ·
By Dr. Becker

In an article last November, I reported on the very real danger of future widespread aflatoxin contamination of commercial pet food, primarily dry dog food. Thanks to the very hot, dry summer of 2012, experts predicted U.S. corn crops would be heavily infested with two types of mold -- Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.

These molds produce metabolites called aflatoxins. Aflatoxins cause acute lethal illness and cancer in animals and humans, and are among the most carcinogenic substances on earth. Aflatoxins poison the liver, and their carcinogenic properties can lead to tumor formation.

Recalls of Aflatoxin-Contaminated Dog Food Have Begun

Reuters reports high levels of aflatoxins have been discovered in bags of dog food on store shelves in Iowa. And according to Michael Wright, the CEO of Pro-Pet, a pet food company in Ohio that recently learned some of its product was contaminated with aflatoxins, "Last year's corn crop – it's a huge issue. We test every load coming in. And we reject a lot of loads."

During the last week of February, the Hy-Vee Inc. grocery chain was forced to recall five different products in its private dog food line due to high levels of aflatoxins in the corn used in the formulas. The dog food was produced at a Kansas City Pro-Pet plant and distributed across eight Midwestern states.

As I explained back in November, the behavior of the A. flavus and A. parasiticus molds makes it very difficult to control or minimize aflatoxin contamination, or to accurately assess the extent of the problem. There can be pockets of plants that are heavily contaminated, while the rest of the crop is relatively mold-free, so analyzing occasional random samples of corn plants can give misleading results.

The corn used in the recalled Hy-Vee formulas had been tested before it was added to the dog food, and the finished product was reportedly tested as well. But the contamination wasn't discovered until a random bag was pulled from a store shelf in Iowa by an inspector for the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

According to PetfoodIndustry.com, Hy-Vee officials say the recall is only a precautionary measure and no illnesses have been reported. The recalled products were distributed to Hy-Vee stores in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin between October 26, 2012, and January 11, 2013. Specific details of recalled products can be found here.

If you happen to have a bag of recalled product, you should stop feeding it to your pet. You can also return the food, opened or unopened, to a Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

How to Avoid Aflatoxin-Contaminated Pet Food

Aflatoxin-related illness is seen much more often in dogs than cats because more commercial dog foods than cat foods contain corn products.

To be very safe, I recommend you transition your pet away from all dry food. Replace it with a high quality canned food, a commercially prepared raw diet, dehydrated raw, a balanced home cooked diet, or a combination.

If you want to continue to offer dry food to your dog, I recommend you study the ingredients carefully and avoid products containing corn in any form, including corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, etc. Corn is not only highly susceptible to aflatoxin contamination, it is also allergenic and difficult for most pets to digest.

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Back at the beginning of the year there were several reports to Dog Food Advisor about sick dogs on Diamond products that were displaying the symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning. A few deaths were reported as well. Sicknesses and deaths that are suspected of being food related should all be reported to the FDA. Keep your dog food in it's original bag so that you always have the codes if there is a recall or if you suspect a problem with your food. Don't automatically throw out food suspected of being bad. Sometimes it takes a while for the FDA to receive enough complaints for them to start an investigation and they may need samples of suspect food.


Corn is not the only carrier of aflatoxin, all grains, several seeds, and many nuts including peanuts and peanut butter can be contaminated.

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^^Exactly. If you want to avoid aflatoxins, you have to avoid pretty much all grains. Granted, corn is much more likely to be affected than other grains, but no grain is safe. Heck, I use a lot of peanut butter giving meds to all my dogs. At any rate, unless one can afford to feed grain-free foods, aflatoxins will be a risk.



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Dr.Becker has a pretty good facebook page (especially for non-facebook people like myself, it is actually enjoyable) with good info and she posts adorable photos of her animal clients including wildlife. The possum with tail issues made for great photos.

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Mycotoxins are also found in oil seed crops and the resulting oils like rapeseed, lindseed, flax seed, canola, cottonseed, etc. These crops are of much lower commercial importance so we don't hear about mycotoxin contamination of these crops. Also, the precentage by weight of these oil seeds in pet food is much lower than the precentage by weight of grains meaning the total mycotoxin level in finished kibble by contaminated oil seeds will be lower than by contaminated grains.

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Sunflower is another one to add to your list. My understanding is that mycotoxin poisoning can be cumulative so getting a small dose daily over time can cause the same problems than getting a larger dose once can cause, only if a problem comes on slowly you are less likely to recognize it as being a food borne illness.

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