Information about mycotoxins in pet foods is scarce and the studies are mostly outdated and limited to dogs (and cats to certain extents). However, some reviews on the topic were produced in recent years and in this section the most significant studies are reported.
Bohn and Razzai-Fazeli concluded that dogs exposed to high amounts of aflatoxins, higher than 0.5 mg/kg BW, die within days showing signs like enlarged livers and hemorrhages.2 The authors reported that sub-acute doses (0.5-1 mg aflatoxin/kg pet food) caused symptoms like anorexia, lethargy, jaundice, intravascular coagulation and death within 2-3 weeks.2 Chronic exposure over 6-8 weeks produced liver damages as well.
Fumonisins are of particular concern for rabbits. Rabbits exposed to 1.75 mg fumonisin B1 (FB1)/kg BW/day died due to renal and hepatic damages as well as leukoencephalomalacia.3
Fusaric Acid (FA) has negative effects on dogs at relatively high doses. Immunotoxicity, hypotensive effects, vomiting and decreased weight gain were observed in a study where feed contaminated with 50 mg FA/kg BW was used.9
Dogs also showed high susceptibility to ochratoxin A (OTA).10 A single dose of 7.8 mg OTA/kg BW was lethal for young beagles. Similarly, exposure of the same animals to a daily dose of 0.2 mg OTA/kg BW, produced the same effects. Symptoms of OTA intoxication include anorexia, weight loss, vomiting, tenesmus, bloody diarrhea, increased body temperature, tonsillitis, dehydration and prostration.10
Cats and dogs are sensitive to trichothecenes. The effects of deoxynivalenol (DON) were studied at concentrations up to 4.5 mg DON/kg pet food and feed refusal was observed.8 Concentrations of DON up to 8 mg DON/kg pet food resulted in vomiting.8 Furthermore, the authors reported the ability of dogs to choose uncontaminated food, validating what was observed in other studies where DON was demonstrated to cross the blood-brain barrier.8
Trichothecenes: diacetoxyscirpenol (DAS)
The adverse effects of DAS were tested in dogs and high susceptibility towards this mycotoxin was observed. Symptoms like deformed blood cells, damages to bone marrow, gastrointestinal and immune dysfunctions were observed in the group that received the mycotoxin-contaminated food (0.5 mg DAS/kg BW).4 Cats were reported to be more resistant to trichothecenes, but information on clinical trials and dosage used was not found.
Both female and male dogs are sensitive to zearalenone (ZEN). In groups that were treated with 5 mg ZEN/kg BW for 13 weeks, effects like reduction of the endocrine ovary tissue (corpora lutea) and arrested spermatogenesis were observed.7 Although the dosage used in the aforementioned study is quite high, adverse effects like cell damages in ovaries, edema and hyperplasia in the uterus, were also observed at lower dosages (consumption of contaminated feed containing 200 ppb).5
AFB1 – Aflatoxin B1 | AFM1 – Aflatoxin M1 | DON – Deoxynivalenol | FUM – Fumonisins | OTA – Ochratoxin A | T-2 – T-2 Toxin | HT-2 – HT-2 Toxin | ZEN - Zearalenone | Ergots – Ergot, Alkaloids