Dr. Patrick Mahaney’s thoughts
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a well-known veterinarian, recently reported on the sulfonamide hypersensitivity hypothesis I had also written about as a suspected cause for the illness and death of dogs fed chicken treats contaminated with sulfonamide drug residues. Dr. Patrick Mahaney agrees, that sulfonamide drug residues could indeed trigger an allergic reaction to the sulfonamides found present in the treats in dogs sensitive to those drugs.
Dr. Mahaney explains:
“In both cats and dogs, there are well documented adverse reactions to [the] five antibiotics found in the treats, especially to products considered to be sulfonamides.”
He goes on to say that the potential exists for sulfonamides to cause hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions in dogs as well as cats. In particular, certain breeds of dogs are known to more sensitive to sulfonamides than other breeds, further complicating the puzzle. In general, it is estimated that 3-7% of dogs are allergic to sulfonamides.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have known for decades of the risk that drug residues pose in meat and dairy industry. Yet, the FDA refuses to acknowledge there could be a problem with the drug residues found in the Chinese chicken treats and the reports of dogs becoming ill and dying.
Dr. Cathy Alinovi’s thoughts
Veterinarian Dr. Cathy Alinovi disagrees with the FDA and is convinced there is a strong possibility that canine sulfonamide hypersensitivity could be playing a significant role in the illness and death of some dogs who have been exposed to the drug residues present in the contaminated chicken jerky imported from China. Dr. Alinovi explained:
“Susan [Susan Thixton of Truth About Pet Food] and Mollie called me and asking me about the sulfa drugs and side effects,” she said. “Here’s the take I had when I walked out of vet school: You don’t use on small animals because they can have reactions, such as dry eye. I thought, ‘What if this is it?’ Recently, my feed sale rep came in. He said that those in the business know you don’t put these in dog foods.”
Dr. Alinovi described why some dogs get sick, and even die, while others don’t:
“Thousands of dogs can eat sulfas, but one can experience an anaphylaxis and die,” Dr. Cathy explained. “It’s just like a bunch of people can eat strawberries and not have a reaction, but one can. The more we look at it, the more I think this might be it. These are all antibiotics for livestock. Some pets are resistant to one, because it’s in their food. Then some dogs can have an allergic reaction. I had a patient that died from jerky treats that got Fanconi Syndrome; he had an allergic reaction and died. So sulfa, even if you get a little bit, can kill you.”
Dr. Alinovi added that side effects might include dry eye, vomiting, loss of appetite, anemia, arthritis, facial swelling, excessive urination, low thyroid and unexplained liver failure.
“The bottom line is: they’re allergic,” she concluded.
While industry and the FDA acknowledge that such contamination could lead to health problems in humans, ranging from allergic reactions to an additional small risk of cancer, the same does not apparently hold true for animals: Particularly dogs, who are poor acetylators of sulfonamides, the FDA insists there is no connection between the drug laced treats and the random, unexplained illness and death in dogs.
I ask the FDA: In humans drug residues can cause allergies, why not so in dogs?
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