Over time, indospicine can build up in the food chain as livestock eatIndigofera plants.

Australian investigators identified a native plant toxin, indospicine, as thecause of numerous dog deaths and illnesses clustered near Gippsland, Victoria,Australia. PrimeSafe and Agriculture Victoria authorities announced thisadvance in their investigation on July 21. As of that date, 14 dogs had diedand another 45 sickened, reported the Australian Broadcasting Company.

“At this stage the investigation has no conclusive evidence of how the dogshave ingested the toxin, with pet food sources remaining a primary focus,”wrote Agriculture Victoria representatives in the announcement. “This complexinvestigation is ongoing with multiple lines of inquiry across the pet meatsupply chain and testing continuing at laboratories across Australia.”

All affected dogs were young, healthy and vaccinated. Fresh and frozen rawmeat sourced from Gippsland and sold between 31 May and 3 July is one commonfactor and potential connections are being investigated. The meat product wasdistributed state-wide, but was recalled by Maffra Knackery.

About plant toxins in dog food

Various plants of the Indigofera species produce indospicine toxins,according to a literature review published in the journal Agriculture,including some native to Australia. While all animals can suffer liver damageor fetal abortion after exposure to the toxin, dogs are highly sensitive toindospicine. Previous incidents have involved dogs poisoned by horse or camelmeat containing indospicine. For example, more than 30 dogs died in AliceSprings, Australia after eating meat from horses that had fed on Indigoferaplants in 1988.

Although Victoria hasn’t had problems with indospicine and dogs, similarproblems have arisen in northern Australia, according to Agriculture Victoria.

Over time, indospicine can build up in the food chain as livestock eatIndigofera plants, some of which are use to make the dye indigo.Hypothetically, cattle or other animals grazing on these plants may havebioaccumulated the toxin in their tissues. That concentrated indospicine maythen have passed from herbivore to omnivore as the livestock became raw dogfood. However, this potential route hasn’t been proven.

PrimeSafe and Agriculture Victoria advised dog owners that fresh or frozen rawpet meat sourced from Gippsland between May 31 and July 3, should not be fedto dogs. Dog food businesses and pet food ingredient suppliers haveimplemented voluntary withdrawals and recalls of potentially affectedproducts.

Recall of raw dog food products

The Gippsland Times reported that the meat came from Maffra Knackery, whichexpanded their product recall on July 22.

Knackery co-owner Karen Backman told the Gippsland Times that the companyidentified a unique purchase of animals from a region where the Indigoferaplants may grow. The animals were intended for the export market and humanconsumption, but were stuck in Australia by pandemic-related borderrestrictions and export constraints.

The recalled raw pet foods include:

  • Maffra District Knackery Mince
  • Maffra District Knackery Kennel
  • Maffra District Knackery Horse
  • Backman’s Greyhound Supplies Mince
  • Backman’s Greyhound Supplies Kennel
  • Backman’s Greyhound Supplies Horse

Source: Tim Wall Petfood Industry

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