"We suspect that dogs have been dying since November, perhaps even October, but it took the perfect storm of circumstances to get the diagnosis," said Karyn Bischoff, the veterinary toxicologist at Cornell who first identified aflatoxin as the culprit in the recent wave of deaths.
Trying to save dogs
Over the recent holiday weeks, Center and her staff worked around-the-clock to try to save the 17 poisoned dogs admitted to Cornell's Hospital for Animals. "I've been working with liver disease in dogs for 30 years, and I've never seen such miserably ill dogs," said Center, noting that severely affected dogs suffer from intractable vomiting and internal bleeding. "Despite our understanding of this complex toxin, we have no direct antidote for this poisoning. This has been an immensely sad holiday and one that will leave an indelible mark on the owners that lost their cherished family members."
Of those 17 dogs, Center euthanized 12 when it became clear they could not survive; five are still being treated. Dogs that have survived had consumed a smaller amount of the food than dogs that died, Center said. "Some dogs were stealing food from the kitchen counter. Others just stopped eating the food and begged for treats. Unfortunately, some owners used gravy and other mixers to entice their dogs to consume what they thought was safe, quality dog food."
"It's devastating to dog owners who feel responsible for poisoning their beloved dogs," said Bischoff.
Although only about two dozen animal deaths have been officially linked to the tainted pet food, Center and Bischoff know that many more have died or become ill from the tainted food, based on their many communications with veterinarians as far south as Georgia.
"Every day, we're hearing reports from veterinarians in the East and Southeast who have treated dogs that have died from liver damage this past month or so," said Center. "We're also conc
Source:Cornell University News Service