Houston Community News >> Pet Food Poison Identified

3/23/2007 (AP)-- Scientists now think they know what's causing that pet food crisis: rat poison.

A New York lab isolated aminopterin in samples of cat food. A Canadian pet food manufacturer has recalled 60 million cans and pouches that may be laced with the chemical.

Scientists fear thousands of dogs and cats may be sickened or killed.

At Alexandria Animal Hospital, Coco the tabby cat is in trouble. Her kidneys show signs of failure, most likely caused by the poisoned pet food.

Alexandria Animal Hospital is treating six pets who are struggling to recover after eating food that may have been laced with a rat poison called aminopterin.

The scientists who isolated the aminopterin refused to speculate on how the poison got into pet foods produced for scores of companies by Menu Foods.

But Menu Foods had been using a new supplier of wheat gluten, a meat-substitute more commonly used in Asia. And investigators are now trying to determine if the rat poison might have been used to control rodents in storage facilities in China.

Paul Henderson, the Menu Foods CEO told a Toronto news conference, "How did substance get in to pet food. We don't know. We'll check to see. What products, again we don't know for certain."

The lab released it's early findings in hopes of giving vets new ways to treat the sickened dogs and cats. But at Alexandria Animal Hospital, veterinarians say it really doesn't help them much. They will continue to pump the pets with fluids, hoping to flush the poison out of their kidneys. But there is no antidote.

Aminopterin is NOT licensed for use as a rat poison in the US, but it is used overseas. And here's an interesting twist. If this was a US licensed rat poison like D-Con, vets could treat it with massive doses of Vitamin K.

Doctors used it in the 1950s for to kill human cancer cells in chemotherapy. But it was so toxic, they gave it up. Now smaller, purer doses are again undergoing testing for chemo.

(Contributed by AP)