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Food and Treats from China Cause More Than 900 Dogs to Fall Ill or Die

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dogs playing beach costa ricaJust this week, the Food and Drug Administration confirms it has received more than 900 complaints from owners of dogs who were either sickened or died after eating chicken jerky dog treats made in China. This latest report comes a mere six months after the FDA issued its latest warning about the tainted food and treats.

ABC news reported this initially late last year and since then the number of complaints has nearly doubled. The FDA says its investigation is ongoing and that it continues to test samples of the popular treats, which dog owners across the country say have caused kidney failure in their pets, resulting in severe illness or death.

Pet owners have blamed two brands primarily for the reported illnesses, Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, both produced by Nestle Purina and made in China. Other suspected brands include Milo’s Kitchen, Milo’s Kitchen Dog Treats, Dogswell Breathies Chicken Breast Jerky, Catswell Happy Hips Chicken Breast Jerky, Catswell Vitakitty Chicken Breast Jerky, Paws Premium Naturals, Smokehouse Brand and Shep Brand products. As often happens, products made by one manufacturer are repackaged and sold under a different name, as is the case here. These brands were all manufactured in China using chicken from that country. There is an abundance of white chicken meat available in China because Asian consumers prefer the dark meat, leaving an excess of white meat to be used in other products.

While tests for metal contaminants and melamine returned negative results, the FDA is looking closer at diethylene glycol as a possible source of the problem since most all cases reported have involved kidney failure. Diethylene glycol is occasionally substituted for glycerol or propylene glycol in pharmaceuticals. It is extremely toxic to the kidneys, but it is cheaper than other food and pharmaceutical ingredients which is why companies use it. Diethylene glycol is a common component in anti-freeze, electronic cigarette cartridges, used as a humectant for tobacco, in synthetic sponges, paper products, in cork compositions, book-binding adhesives, water seals for gas tanks, as a lubricating and finishing agent for wool, worsted, cotton, rayon and silk, and as a solvent for vat dyes. It is a component of brake fluids, lubricants, mold release agents and inks and is used in the lacquer industry and in cosmetics. Diethylene glycol was found present as a contaminant in Austrian and German wines, after it was added to improve sweetness.

The FDA issued its first warning about pet foods and treats from China in 2007 then again in 2008, both times based on complaints from pet owners. But it wasn’t until late 2011 that the numbers and urgency of complaints accelerated as bereaved and angry pet owners pushed harder for answers as to what might be harming or killing man’s best friend.

The problem with the issue is getting the word out,” said Dr. Richard Goldstein, Chief of Medicine at The Animal Medical Center in New York City.

Goldstein has been studying the connection between pet illnesses and chicken jerky treats made in China since 2007 and says although deaths have been rare in his experience, it’s still crucial to seek veterinary care if a dog shows symptoms such as vomiting or lethargy.

These are still on the shelves and cases are still popping up,” said Goldstein, urging pet owners to be vigilant.

The issue has gained attention in Washington as Sen. Sherrod Brown has been urging Congress to look more diligently at products being imported from China. Sen. Brown recently took the head of the FDA to task over the issue. Brown told Dr. Margaret Hamburg he was concerned that pet owners were still able to buy the treats, sadly unaware they may possibly be tainted.

The FDA must be as aggressive as possible to find the source of this contamination,” Brown said later in a press release.

It is important to note that many of these dog foods are available in Costa Rica. You do have the option to create your own dog food using locally available products from the farmers market. Try using cooked rice, carrots, and the fatty or unedible parts of fresh chicken or beef from your families meals. Mix this together, and you have a much better well rounded meal plan for your family dog, which ultimately will cost much less then 50,000 Colones for a 10KG bag of branded dog food per month. Think about that and enjoy the love your dog gives you for many more years to come. The saying “you are what you eat” doesn’t just apply to humans.

Source: ABC News

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