Pet food recalls due to elevated aflatoxin levels have increased recently, causing great concern to pet parents. The concern is warranted. A 2012 study at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine reported a mortality rate of 68% of dogs who ingested tainted commercial dog food. Contamination has all but wiped out some fish farms. We are only alerted to regulation toxic levels of aflatoxin of course – low levels are legal and go unreported. Unfortunately, even low levels of aflatoxin (a mycotoxin) may cause disease and otherwise effect the performance levels and growth of animals.
As we try to protect our pets from harm, the feeling of helplessness from a lack of control of pet food contamination is unnerving and stressful. There are natural, scientifically proven ways to protect our pets from toxins, however, and one of the most effective is Calcium Montmorillonite Clay. In fact, clays are instinctively sought out in the animal kingdom by many species to self-medicate, detoxify, and improve digestion.
In 2007, animal scientists at Texas A&M University demonstrated the effectiveness of Calcium Montmorillonite Clay (a type of smectite/bentonite) as an effective aflatoxin binder in animal feeds. Further study was conducted to encourage direct use by grain feed producers. This resulted in the OTSC developing a policy statement on the use of smectite clay binders to sequester aflatoxin in grains for animal feeds marketed in Texas.
In spite of scientists’ attempts to make the public and industry aware of the mycotoxin-binding effects of some smectite clays, it continues to be underutilized for this purpose. The health benefits of ingesting Calcium Montmorillonite Clay are becoming somewhat better known, as its inclusion in a few pet food brands demonstrates. It is sensitive to processing so the benefits remaining in the end product are consequently reduced to some degree, but the minerals are very stable.
For the full effect, high quality Calcium Montmorillonite Clay can be administered as a supplement to bind and reduce adsorption of aflatoxin and other mycotoxins. The binding effects extend to other toxins as well, including radiation, chemicals and bacteria. When a toxin is bound, it is sequestered and passed as waste without harming the animal. Calcium Montmorillonite Clay also offers more than 60 naturally balanced macro, micro and trace colloidal mineral elements in a highly bio-available form.
Caution: All Calcium Montmorillonite Clay is not created equal. Lower grades can include dangerous levels of impurities and pet/pond or cosmetic grades are not regulated to human-edible standards. Make sure you purchase from a reputable supplier who provides information such as the product certification number.
Calcium Montmorillonite Clay can be stirred into water (it is relatively neutral in taste). If your pet won’t drink it, try mixing it into a little bit of their favorite wet food in the morning. Wait two hours, then give them their normal breakfast and feed normally for the remainder of the day.
Birds: Calcium Montmorillonite Clay can be mixed with water or grit, providing crucial minerals as well as Silicate. Several species of herbivorous birds were actually observed flocking to the site of a mudslide so they could enjoy easy access to the clay-rich soil [Diamond, Jared 1998].
As always, we strongly recommend consulting with your Veterinarian (traditional, holistic or naturopath) before making any changes in your pet’s diet.
1/4 tsp (give or take, based on the size of the animal) is most commonly prescribed (humans usually take about a teaspoon with 6-8oz of water). I fill a spice bottle and just add a dash to my cat’s food. Since Calcium Montmorillonite Clay impacts digestion, it is recommended that it be introduced in small amounts. Increase the amount until you reach the dose you have decided upon. If your pet experiences digestive issues, simply cut back on the amount and work your way up.
Note: If your pet is taking medication, give it to him more than two hours before or after feeding the clay.
The only reported side-effect from the ingestion of Calcium Montmorillonite Clay is the possibility of constipation with insufficient water intake (as may be the case with dry pet food), or if too much is used. If your pet has a buildup of toxins, ingestion may temporarily result in loose stools as his system expels them.
Office of the Texas State Chemist (OTSC)
J.B. Dixon. Aflatoxin sequestration in animal feeds by quality-labeled smectite clays: An introductory plan. Texas A&M University. 2007.
V. E. Mendel. Montmorillonite Clay in Feedlot Rations. University of California.
J. H. Quisenberry. The Use of Clay in Poultry Feed. Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University. 1967.
“Healing clays” hold promise in fight against MRSA superbug infections and disease. Arizona State University School of Life Sciences.
Bruchim, Y. Accidental fatal aflatoxicosis due to contaminated commercial diet in 50 dogs. Koret School of Veterinary Medicine. 2012.
Bonna, R.J. Efficacy of hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate and activated charcoal in reducing the toxicity of dietary aflatoxin to mink. 1991.
Desheng, Q. Adsorption of Aflatoxin B1 on montmorillonite. 2005.
Kannewischer, I. Smectite clays as adsorbents of aflatoxin B1: initial steps. 2006.
Motalebi, A. et al. Effect of Temperature on the Produced Aflatoxins in the Rainbow Trout Feed in West Azerbaijan Province. 2008.
Eaton, D.L. Groopman, J.D. The Toxicology of Aflatoxins: Human Health, Veterinary, and Agricultural Significance. 1994.
Robertson, R.H.S. Fuller’s Earth: a History of Calcium Montmorillonite. Ventura Press. 1986. (Available used through Alibris)
Sherwood, Patricia. The Healing Art of Clay Therapy. Acer Press. 2004.
Knishinsky, Ran. The Clay Cure : Natural Healing from the Earth Healing Arts Press. 1998.
Engel, Cindy. Wild Health: Lessons in Natural Wellness from the Animal Kingdom. Houghton Mifflin. 2003.
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