By Jean Sutherland

     I have two dogs and one cat and after learning about the latest confirmed case of mad cow disease I started to wonder about the food that my animals are eating.
     Experts say there’s still no reason to worry about pets getting sick from pet food and no evidence to suggest any tainted meat has made its way into the pet food supply. Experts say the chances of cats or dogs contracting the disease are slim, though not impossible. There’s never been a reported case of a dog or cat getting it in Canada.
     “There is no evidence that dogs have ever gotten this disease,” said Alfonso Torres, associate dean at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “There’s no evidence that cats will contract the disease under normal circum-stances.”
     Mad cow has been found in a small number of cats (about 100) in the United Kingdom, as well as a handful in other European countries. Larger zoo felines that fed directly off infected carcasses also died from the disease, Torres said.
     Officials in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have said they suspect the cats got the disease by eating cat food tainted with infected meat. That suspicion is bolstered by evidence that British cats contracted the disease at about the same time, and in the same places.
     In the United States, pet food is closely inspected for quality and safety, due to vigorous pet food standards. “It would be highly, highly unlikely that nervous tissue would end up even in pet food,” he said. “It’s one of those products that is as vigorously inspected and quality controlled as canned tuna.” But, in a statement Stephen Sundlof, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration, said some animals declared unfit for people can be used in pet food.
     “But they must be processed in such a way that they are deemed safe for the pets. This generally means that the pet food must be heat treated or the animal derived parts must be rendered to destroy any pathogens,” he said.
In the United States the $12 billion pet food industry feeds 76 million cats and 61 million dogs, according to the Pet Food Institute, a trade group.
     While researching I could find no set of standards for Mexican meat or pet food made in Mexico. Although this in no way means that they do not have standards it is something to consider.


     We have dozens of puppies at the shelter ready for new homes. Having a pet can be one of the least expensive security measures you can take for your home and should you ever want to go away, pet sitters abound at Lakeside. Please come and see us at the open market in Ajijic on Wednesdays or visit us in San Juan Cosala. Take the road up to the Racquet Club. Half way up on the left side you will see a dirt road. We are half way down that road or call us at 387 761 0500 before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. and let the phone ring as long as possible.