March 18, 2007 -- Additional brand names have been added to the list of possibly tainted pet food brands that are the subject of a recall.
On Friday, Menu Foods, whose products are sold throughout North America, issued a recall for 60 million cans and pouches of certain "cuts and gravy"-style dog and cat food products. Seven more brands have been added to the original list.
Because Menu Foods co-manufactures so many products, veterinarians are urging pet owners to keep tabs on the latest developments.
"It's very possible other companies will have to add to this recall," said Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "People need to keep updating themselves."
(For a list of recalled pet food brands visit http://www.menufoods.com/recall/)
Pet Owners React
At least 10 pet deaths have been linked to the recall, and the affected food may have contributed to kidney failure in many other cats and dogs.
"It makes me feel terrible," said Jackie as she walked her poodle Muffin in Manhattan. "It's just like with a child."
John, owner of Wrigley the beagle, said he logged on to check the food list as soon as he heard about the recall.
"There are like 40 brands on there," John said, "but she's good."
Dr. Ed Loebach, a medical advisor and veterinarian with Banfield Animal Hospitals, said kidney failure can come on quickly, or take a long period of time. He said pet owners should look out for symptoms such as "an increased water intake, increased volumes of urination, unwillingness to eat, vomiting and lethargy. If they see any of those signs, they should take their pet to the veterinarian as soon as they can."
Some pet owners' efforts to learn about the recall proved futile. Menu Foods set up two hotline numbers for customers to call, but repeated calls from ABC News only resulted in a busy signal. A company spokeswoman said they added more lines, but that traffic remained high.
Retailers' Empty Shelves
Since Friday, pet food retailers have been stripping their shelves of the recalled food.
PETCO spokesman Kevin Whalen said PETCO stores removed foods that weren't on the list, to be "extra careful."
"If it was even possible that certain pet food would be involved, we wanted to be safe," he said Sunday. "Hopefully, with new information on the recall, we can start putting the pet food back on the shelves tomorrow."
Waiting for Answers
A Menu Foods spokeswoman said the company is "diligently testing" its products, but as of yet cannot point to the source of the problem.
Veterinarians note that kidney failure is a common ailment of pets, especially cats. It's among the top killers of older cats, so the full scope of the pet food problem might be difficult to pinpoint.
"Most older cats are living with some degree of compromised kidney function," Dr. Murray of the ASPCA said. "I think there's going to be a lot of confusion and a little bit of panic because there might be kidney failure that their owners are unaware of."
For now, pet owners need to check the list, check their food, and keep an eye on their pets.