Dr. Barchas, I am very concerned about the peanut
butter that I have been giving my three dogs for at
least a year. It is organic p.b. but I have done
some research and have learned that the organic
may have a higher level of aflatoxin than the
normal crappy p.b. So, what I want to know is,
has the aflatoxin already injured my dogs livers?
I am totally guilt-ridden and worried. I am pretty sure
that I am not the only one that shares his
breakfast with his friends, sad thing is, some
people that do this are unaware of the dangers of
Sincerely, and Respectfully, The Cohen
family, including the furry ones
Aflatoxins are produced by molds that grow on grains or legumes. They are extremely toxic and carcinogenic.
Aflatoxins occasionally make their way into the food supplies of humans and pets. In late 2005 and early 2006 aflatoxins in dog food were linked to the deaths of at least 23 pets.
Some scientists have speculated that preservative-free organic foods may be more likely to contain aflatoxins because mold is more likely to thrive in the absence of preservatives. I have not seen proof of this, and I wonder whether the scientists who make these claims work for companies that produce heavily processed foods.
In dogs, the most common effect of aflatoxin ingestion is sudden liver failure. Dogs with liver failure typically lose their appetites and become lethargic. They may suffer from vomiting or diarrhea, and their eyes, gums, and skin may take on a yellow color (a condition called jaundice or icterus).
Mr. Cohen, if your dogs are not ill I sincerely doubt that they have been exposed to significant amounts of aflatoxin. Also, when aflatoxin-contaminated food is discovered, the manufacturer inevitably recalls the product among a storm of media attention. If your peanut butter has not been in the news, it probably isn’t dangerous.
Photo credit: Piccolo Namek.