Buying consumer products made in China has long been an American tradition. It comes down to dollars and cents. If a Chinese-made product is selling for less than an American-made one, there’s a good chance we’ll buy it.
But when it comes to pet food, saving a few bucks upfront has cost a lot of Americans dearly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has documented more than 5,600 cases of dogs that got sick eating jerky treats, most of which were made in China. Of those dogs, more than 1,000 died, according to the FDA.
Of the dogs examined as part of the federal investigation into these Chinese pet treats, about six in 10 were found to have gastrointestinal or liver disease, and 30 percent suffered kidney or urinary disease. Dealing with those symptoms, particularly when the dog’s condition is grave, can be incredibly expensive — sometimes running into the thousands of dollars.
While this investigation into these imported dog treats has been going on for years, and it’s still not clear what is making the dogs sick, they’re still being widely sold. But consumers are rightly getting concerned. Yielding to the concerns, the national pet retailer Petco said it would end sales of the Chinese jerky treats by year’s end and expects to ramp up the phaseout next month.
Reaction by Petco, Purina, Del Monte
“We’ve been following the FDA warnings and related customer concerns closely, and we’ve been actively reducing our China-made assortment and expanding our American-made offerings for several years now,” Petco CEO Jim Myers said in a statement announcing the decision. “We know the FDA hasn’t yet identified a direct cause for the reported illnesses, but we decided the uncertainty of the situation outweighs the lack of actual proof.”
It can be hard to tell sometimes where products originate. Among the brands that have been using Chinese chicken products is Purina’s Waggin’ Train, which, along with Del Monte’s Milo’s Kitchen dog treats, were pulled from the shelves last year in a recall related to the investigation. Since then, both have tried to distance their products from the controversy with Milo’s Kitchen reporting the brand now uses only domestic chicken products and Purina noting that its Chinese chicken comes from a U.S- owned company.
American pet treat/food brands include Blue Buffalo, Blue Ridge Naturals, Colorado Naturals, Merrick, Nature’s Variety and Wellness.
Some symptoms to watch out if you have fed your dog some suspect treats include decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and increased urination.