Chinese authorities issued their first official response to the pet food recall on Friday, saying they are investigating allegations that a Chinese company exported the tainted wheat gluten that has been blamed for the deaths of dogs and cats in the United States.
For worried pet owners, the investigation is little consolation.
PetConnection.com, a Web site that has been tracking pet deaths since shortly after the recall was announced, has logged 3,499 pet deaths linked to the tainted food.
"We're still on high alert," said Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "New brands have been added to the recall on almost a daily basis for the past week or so. … We're just making sure not to assume this is over, not to assume the recall is complete."
The recall started with a long list of brands, including 'cuts and gravy'-style wet foods manufactured by Menu Foods. It has since expanded to include types of Alpo, one of America's most popular pet foods, and some Sunshine Mills brand dog biscuits.
"We want to make sure that while people are looking for what they think might be safe to feed their pets … they aren't going in a direction that leads to an unbalanced diet," Murray said.
And she warned an unbalanced diet can also cause health problems, even blindness or heart failure.
Murray said vets are concerned that they could face another wave of sick pets from malnourishment. She said it's important for pet owners, especially those turning to a home-made diet, to consult with a veterinary nutritionist first.
"Hopefully we're at the end of the recall, but we've said that quite a few times over the past few weeks," Murray said.