Archived News

Information on Melamine and Advice about Home-Cooked Pet Diets

April 18, 2007

[Editor's note: This is an archived article with information developed from April 3 to May 29, 2007. We have stopped updating this information. If you have questions about melamine in pet food, please visit the Web site of the Food and Drug Administration, ]

May 29, 2007
News media report that another pet food recall has occurred:

May 16, 2007

The FDA announced May 15 that it has cleared swine for processing that had been held because they had eaten pet food containing melamine. Some poultry and fish continue to be held pending further testing. The FDA also updated its human health risk assessment and confirmed its earlier conclusion that there is very low risk of harm to humans from eating food containing low levels of melamine or related compounds. 

May 9, 2007

New York Times reported that cyanuric acid from China may have been sold to U.S. feed manufacturers. Brad Smith, director of the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, explains, "Cyanuric acid is another nitrogen containing compound that was apparently added on purpose in China to give false high protein readings. While melamine is relatively nontoxic, it precipitates when combined with cyanuric acid and forms crystals like those found in renal tubules of affected pets." The report also cited the FDA as saying that some farmed fish had eaten meal that included melamine and other contaminants, but assured the public that the level was probably too low to harm humans who ate the fish.

May 7, 2007

FACT SHEET: Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment

April 30, 2007

The Web site below goes to a transcript of a telephone news conference by the FDA-USDA on the recall of pet foods and investigation of products detected in hog feed.

April 20, 2007

The Sacramento Bee reports April 20: "That question became more urgent Thursday with reports from South Africa that corn gluten in Royal Canin pet foods there was contaminated with melamine, killing about 30 pets. The Web site for Royal Canin U.S. announced an eight-product recall late Thursday."

April 18, 2007
Dr. Bradford Smith (see original article below) responds to reports this week that additional pet foods have been found tainted with melamine. The source appears to be imported rice protein concentrate. Natural Balance has recalled canned and dry venison and brown rice, venison and brown rice dog treats, and venison and green pea dry cat food.

Pet Food SamplesThe FDA list of recalled foods is available at The FDA has added a "search" function to its Web site that allows visitors to enter a particular brand-name to determine whether it appears on the list of recalled pet foods.

Dr. Smith states that continued recalls are causing consumers to lose faith in the safety of pet foods after being assured each week that only products containing imported wheat gluten needed to be avoided. Many more owners are asking about home cooked meals for their animals--at least until all the issues are resolved. He advises consumers to speak to a veterinarian about what is safe to feed their pets. 

April 3, 2007 (Updated April 12)

Doctor Bradford Smith, director of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, shares information from the School of Veterinary Medicine regarding the pet food recall:

Another foreign substance, melamine, was recently identified in multiple
recalled pet food samples by the toxicology team at the Calfornia Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, the state's veterinary diagnostic laboratory system and part of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Melamine is a urea-like compound used to make plastics (Melmac) and fertilizer, and as an abrasive. The laboratory has been testing samples in cooperation with the FDA.

He explained, "Based on the small amount of scientific literature available, toxicologists tell us that melamine does not appear highly toxic, with a median lethal dose of about 3 grams per kilogram. Highly toxic compounds contain a median lethal dose of less than 100 milligrams per kilogram. In studies, melamine targets the renal tract, and the crystals found in the renal tubules of some currently affected animals appear to be melamine.

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory analyzed eight samples of recalled foods from households with affected pets, and all eight samples contained melamine. Smith noted that none of the samples tested in the Davis laboratory contained aminopterin, the poisonous compound reported present in different food samples conducted by another lab.

If your pet appears ill, consult a veterinarian immediately. Symptoms of illness related to tainted pet food may include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, increased thirst, and increased or decreased urination. 

"Clients may be worried that other pet foods may be found contaminated in the future. They may want to feed a home-prepared diet for a couple of weeks until the dust settles, but need to remember that commercial pet food contains a more balanced diet for most pets in the long run." Smith states that these foods are formulated especially for cats or dogs, which have different nutritional requirements. "Dry foods that do not contain wheat gluten from the suspect source are considered safe to feed."

Doctor Andrea Fascetti, service chief of the Nutrition Support Service, says that it is possible to cook at home for your pet and has some words of advice for pet owners. "Remember that dogs and cats are not humans and therefore have different nutritional requirements. If you feed them as you would feed yourself, you may be unintentionally putting your pet at risk for a nutritional problem.

"Make sure that if you chose to home-cook for your pet that you consult your veterinarian and get a recipe that has been evaluated and/or formulated by a trained veterinary nutritionist. I caution strongly against using a recipe that you simply come across on the Internet or find in a book. We are frequently asked to evaluate diets that owners have found or created, and we almost always find problems. Quite often there are deficiencies with respect to vitamins and minerals, but occasionally we see excesses of certain nutrients that can be detrimental as well."

Smith also cautioned pet owners about potential problems with home-prepared foods. "Pet owners should
consult a veterinarian about home-prepared diets to avoid problems such as including too much fat that can cause pancreatitis in dogs." 

Consumers can find recipes for home-prepared pet food from several sources:

  • UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Nutrition Service at either the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Davis, (530) 752-1393, or at the San Diego location in the UC Veterinary Medical Center, (858) 875-7505.
  • Services run by board-certified nutritionists at other veterinary schools
  • Board-certified veterinary nutritionists who run private, for-profit companies, for example: or

More information:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Press release April 12

American College of Veterinary Nutrition

Menu Foods 
Hill's Pet Nutrition
Del Monte
Sunshine Mills
Natural Balance
Royal Canin
Smart Pak
Blue Buffalo *

*This list may not be complete. Please go to the Food and Drug Administration Web site for the most up-to-date list of recalled products. 

In the news: An article in the Sacramento Bee April 10, 2007 describes how the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory identified melamine in pet food samples. (Free registration required) 

In the news: An article in the Sacramento Bee April 18, 2007 explains that testing is being expanded to detect other sources of melamine. (Free registration required)


If your animal shows signs of distress and you suspect that your pet may be affected by a recalled pet food, please consult your veterinarian, or make an appointment at the Small Animal Clinic, (530) 752-1393.

You may make an appointment at the Small Animal Clinic of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, which provides veterinary services in emergency and critical care, nutrition, internal medicine, hemodialysis and other specialized areas of veterinary medicine. (530) 752-1393.


School of Veterinary Medicine toxicologists encourage veterinarians to contact the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory if they suspect that a patient may have been affected by one of the recalled pet foods so that samples may be tested: California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory