At least 28 dogs have died and another eight have become sick after eating dog food that contained high levels of a toxin called aflatoxin, the Food and Drug Administration said, as some pet foods were recalled Wednesday.
The FDA is investigating these reports, and alerting pet owners and veterinarians that certain Sportmix brand pet foods "may contain potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin."
Aflatoxin is produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, the FDA says. This mold can grow on corn and other grains used in pet foods. At high levels, it can be deadly for pets.
On Wednesday, Midwest Pet Food Inc., which manufactures the Sportmix brand of pet foods, announced a recall of nine lots of the pet food. A list of recalled products can be found on the FDA's website.
The FDA and the Missouri Department of Agriculture are working with the manufacturer to determine whether additional products contain high levels of aflatoxin.
"Although this pet food recall is still unfolding, we are sharing the facts we have so far because the levels of aflatoxin found in the recalled pet food are potentially fatal," Dr. Amber McCoig, deputy director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine Division of Compliance, said in a statement.
People should stop feeding their pets these foods and contact their veterinarians.
Symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning in pets can include sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (a sign of liver damage) and/or diarrhea, the FDA says. If your pet has symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
Pets are particularly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because they generally eat the same food every day, the FDA says. If the food contains aflatoxin, the toxin can accumulate in their bodies over time.
Pet owners, however, are not thought to be at risk from handling the pet foods.