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The mycotoxin threat to pets

Traditional livestock feeds such as wheat and corn – and other feedstuffs of vegetable origin, such as nuts, legumes and fruits – are also used as ingredients in commercial pet food. As a result, cats, dogs, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs can also be exposed to these potentially toxic fungal metabolites. In addition, rising feed prices mean a greater variety of carbohydrates such as tapioca, sweet potato and pea flour have become popular as pet food ingredients. Extreme weather, a variety of harvest and storage conditions – as well as long distance transport time – all impact adversely on these feed materials. Consequently, the risk of mould growth and associated mycotoxin contamination has become very high.

How do mycotoxins affect pets

Reproduction

  • Embryonic mortality
  • Cystic ovaries
  • Decreased spermatogenesis in males
  • Increase incidence in uterine infections

Organ damage

  • Liver and/or kidney damage
  • Skin lesions
  • Necrosis
  • Leg swelling

Immunity

  • Increased susceptibility to diseases
  • Decreased effectiveness of vaccinations
  • Decreased antibody production

Gut Health

  • Digestive disorders
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Intestinal haemorrhage/ bloody faeces
  • Ulcers
  • Food refusal/ vomiting

Did you know?

There are several stages at which mycotoxin contamination of pet foods can occur, including pre-harvest, storage and processing. Unfortunately, high temperature processing and extrusion of pet foods cannot inactivate all toxins.

Mitigating the potential threat of mycotoxin contamination is certainly a challenge for the pet food industry. Compared with the agricultural sector there has been less attention paid to the threat to companion animals. However, the threat is very real and the potential feed raw material contamination risks are the same for both industries.

The Alltech Mycotoxin Management Team provide a number of solutions to help you mitigate the threat you could face from mycotoxins.