Melamine Poisoning in Cats and Dogs: A Silent Killer

As a holistic veterinarian, my top priority is the health and well-being of your furry friends. That’s why I want to raise awareness about melamine poisoning in cats and dogs – a serious issue that many pet owners are not familiar with.

melamine poisoning in dogs

What is Melamine?

Chemical compound called melamine, which is commonly used by manufacturers, can be found in household items like hard plastic dishes and countertops. Although melamine itself is not harmful, when it combines with another chemical called cyanuric acid, it can form crystals that are harmful to pets. These crystals can cause kidney damage and lead to kidney failure. The big pet food recall that occurred in the US in 2007 involved these ingredients, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of pets and likely harming thousands more.

The Source of Melamine in Pet Food

Melamine can find its way into pet food through a variety of sources, such as contamination during the manufacturing process or the use of low-quality ingredients. The source of the 2007 melamine poisoning in pets was determined to be shipments of the ingredient “wheat gluten” that was imported from China. That ingredient was then sold to pet food manufacturers. (AVMA, 1) ( But don’t worry….the company that imported the toxic ingredient was fined $25,000. That’s all? ) (AVMA, 2)

Pet Food Safety: Avoiding Melamine Contamination

Symptoms of Melamine Poisoning in Pets

The symptoms of melamine poisoning can be difficult to detect and can vary depending on the type and amount of melamine consumed. However, some common symptoms to look out for include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination. In more severe cases, pets may experience acute kidney failure, which can lead to death if left untreated.

Signs Of Melamine Poisoning In Dogs                     

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Blood in urine
  • In severe cases, acute kidney failure

Symptoms Of Melamine Poisoning In Cats           

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Oral ulcers or sores
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Pale gums or tongue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Seizures or tremors
Detecting Melamine Poisoning in Household Pets

Diagnosing and Treating Melamine Poisoning in Pets

If you suspect that your pet may have been exposed to melamine and cyanuric acid, it’s crucial to take them to a veterinarian. Your vet will likely perform blood and urine tests to check for signs of kidney damage. Treatment for melamine poisoning may include hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and medications to manage symptoms and prevent further kidney damage. In some cases, pets may require long-term monitoring and care to manage the effects of kidney damage.

Preventing Melamine Poisoning in Pets

Prevention is key when it comes to melamine poisoning in pets. The best way to protect your furry friend is to be mindful of the food you’re feeding them. AboWhen choosing pet food, it’s important to look for high-quality options made from whole ingredients and steer clear of those that contain animal by-products, animal meals, or wheat gluten. Read pet food labels of every food and treat and chew.  Alternatively, you can avoid melamine completely by home-cooking for them or feeding them a raw diet. 

For more information about “clean eating” check out my resources and recipes on 


Melamine poisoning is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences for our pets. By being aware of the risks and taking steps to prevent exposure, we can help keep our furry friends healthy and happy. If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to melamine or is showing symptoms of kidney damage, you should contact your veterinarian right away. Together, we can protect our pets from this silent killer.


(AVMA, 1) –

(AVMA, 2)-

Dr. Candy Akers, DVM

Holistic Veterinarian, Veterinary Clinic Owner, Veterinary Medical Supervisory Board Leader, Certified Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist, and Author Dr. Candy completed her undergraduate studies at The University of Delaware and graduated veterinary school in 2009 from Oklahoma State University. In high school, she was drawn to wildlife rehabilitation. Wildlife rehab gave her unparalleled experience in animal healing in a field that has limited resources and a wide variety of conditions to treat. Before vet school, Dr. Akers spent two years working full time providing oil spill response for wildlife all over the country. Since graduating with her Degree of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 2009, Dr. Candy has specialized in companion animal nutrition. Extensive education in nutrition has made her a firm believer in species specific-biologically appropriate diets. One of her passions is educating pet parents about the natural alternatives that actually work. She brings the best of holistic health and conventional medicine together in a unique approach to pet health. This approach is often applied to chronic diseases, allergies, and autoimmune conditions. She started her own veterinary practice 9 years ago in Colorado. Overall, she has dedicated her entire life to improving the health and happiness of animals everywhere.

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