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Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Pet owners have long complained that cat and dog treats imported from China have made their pets sick. Based on the report and concern for dogs and cats, both Petco and PetSmart committed in May 2014 to removing China-made treats from their stores.
The exact reason for illnesses in pets due to China-made pet treats is not yet known, but there are enough complaints and incidences that the FDA is looking into the matter. Though Petco has pulled China-made treats and PetSmart is planning to follow suit, many other dog food retailers will still carry treats imported from China. Before you buy pet treats or pet food, read the labels to see where the products were made. The best way to ensure the safety of your pet's food is to avoid Chinese-made pet food and treats. Though China-made pet food and treats are still under investigation, the FDA warns pet owners that symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy, increased urination and increased water consumption. After the pet food recalls in 2007, I stopped buying any dog treats made in China because it became clear in the months following that the FDA just couldn’t ensure the safety of pet food or treats from China.
I want to stress that this doesn’t mean other brands of chicken jerky from China are safe. If you’re looking for SAFE, Real ‘American Made’ chicken jerky for dogs or cats, we started making our own Chicken Jerky for our 3 dogs after we ran across the FDA warning of 2008 about Chinese chicken treats making dogs sick or killing them. The recent uproar about dog food came about after dogs have become ill due to a certain dog food made in China. The appearance of these lawsuits involving pet food poisoning is definitely a cause of concern especially since the problem has already been dealt with for more than five years now. The second reason why most countries import from China is the cheap cost of labor and materials. Propylene glycol – This is an ingredient which is used to provide moisture in dog food and hence, can commonly be found in wet food products.
Mycotoxins – These are the by-products of mold metabolism in grains and can have significant long and short-term consequences on your dog’s health.
Cyanuric acid – This was also found together with melamine in several dog food products in 2007.
Melamine– This substance was first detected in 2007 when thousands of dogs died due to renal failure.
Antibiotics– The detection of “trace” amounts of antibiotics in several dog food made in China in 2010 has led to the blocking of some imported pet food from China. According to the FDA, there are several signs or symptoms that you should look out for after giving your dog pet foods.
Veterinarians who have handled the cases of affected dogs reported problems varying from gastrointestinal problems, liver failure, and increased glucose content in the urine, tremors, hives, convulsions, skin irritations, and widespread cancer. Pet owners who have filed a complaint against pet food companies reported having their pets collapse several times and finding internal bleeding before their dog died. There are a number of reasons why pet food contamination is one of the most widespread problems in China. Secondly, the local administration of food regulations does not seem to be as strict as the national government intended it to be. Thirdly, the country is suffering from a wide range of environmental pollution and even human food is contaminated.
The Chinese central government however, was not negligent in addressing reports of dog food contamination in their country. Even though there had been reports and lawsuits against pet foods made in China, the government had not issued a recall for the most recent complaints.
Some of the most recent to take off products made in China from their stores are PetCo and PetSmart which are deemed to be two of the largest brands in the US.
The recent complaints about dog food made in China should definitely make a pet owner more way in purchasing pet food products in the market. What you can do for now is to stay clear of those products which have been registered complaints about, namely chicken and duck jerky products. The information contained on this website meant to be a substitute for advice from your own veterinarian or dog trainer.
If you don't, Petco has your back when it comes to potentially harmful China-made pet chow. However, as of this week, Petco is the first national pet retailer to stop carrying China-made chow on its website and in stores.


The FDA has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and is investigating China-made pet treats to determine the causes of illnesses and death in dogs and cats that have consumed them. China-made jerky treats are at the top of the list of complaints, but any China-made pet chow may contain ingredients that are harmful to pets.
A class lawsuit was filed as a general trend among the affected dog foods point towards Beneful, a product of Purina which utilizes a factory in China and also imports ingredients from them. What seems to be the problem is that government investigations have not yet pointed out the main cause of the contamination even though there are some studies that have shown several ingredients to be the culprit. The Chinese love the dark meat better and so there is a large amount of white meat that is not being consumed and even thrown to waste. The actual cost that pet food companies in the US would have to pay China is actually just a fraction of what it could cost if the products were to be made in the United States. In these cases, not only one single substance or chemical had been linked with the problematic dog food. According to some of the lawsuits filed against pet food producers, the involved dog food contained a high amount of this substance which led to the ailment of pets. Some studies concluded that the reaction of melamine and cyanuric acid was what caused renal failure in the affected dogs.
This was after the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets reported about the presence of several antibiotics in pet foods containing chicken. The Food and Drug Administration recommends taking your pet to the vet immediately when you see any of the above-mentioned symptoms in your dog. What they do have is a department that handles approval for foods that are recommendable for human consumption. Quantity over quality seems to be the prevailing ideology in local governments without much consideration over how the food is produced.
China’s Vice Premier himself admitted that such cases are an embarrassment to the Chinese government. It is the pet food manufacturer themselves who have decided to pull out Chinese-made products in their brand as a response to the increasing complaints by consumers. But, even with the pull-out, you can still never be sure that the ingredients on your pet food product did not come from China itself.
This is the best way to approach your dog food issues since your vet can prescribe a certain menu that will suit your pet’s dietary needs.
If you are worried about the origin of your pet food, the best way to know it would be to call the company itself. High quality pet foods contain high quality protein sources which mean that they contain meat.
Try to cook your pet’s food yourself in order to assure that you are providing them with safe and nutritious food as well. The pet advocate Facebook group Animal Parents Against Pet Treats and Food Made in China specifically names Purina Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch as imported products that have harmed their pets. Our products are the only homemade, handmade, ‘Maine Made’, ‘American Made’ Chicken Jerky produced from whole, restaurant-quality chicken breasts containing NO Additives and NO Preservatives.
The issue with tainted dog foods is not a recent one with several recalls made in the past decade alleging the contamination of dog food products with chemicals and substances which are not supposed to be in pet foods at all. The US FDA did not even directly point towards melamine and cyanuric acid to be the main cause in the 2007 pet food recalls. The government therefore, thought that it would be helpful to the environment and cheap to just purchase these “waste” products from China. The government also had a difficult time pointing out what substance actually caused the pets to become ill because even though they tested for various contaminants, the foreign substance was not previously known to be included in pet food.  Even veterinarians were puzzled with the symptoms that the affected dogs manifested compared to the ingredients that were listed on the associated pet food product.
Some of the implicated mycotoxins are Aflatoxin and tricothecene mycotoxin which can be produced by storing grains in humid conditions.
Factories in China, however, used this ingredient to improve the protein content of dog food due to its high nitrogen content. The most common dog food product that have been cited as causing these symptoms include chicken or duck jerky as well as jerky treats which are wrapped in fruit, yam, or sweet potatoes.
As much as possible, chicken or duck jerky treats are also to be given in small amounts as they are not also considered to be a healthy source of nutrients for pets.
The country had implemented new standards and even created a separate government agency that will assess and gather information about food producers. So even if the food packaging says “Made in USA,” chances are it could still contain several ingredients that were imported from China.
Aside from that, you will be buying the raw ingredients yourself and will be making the food itself so you can be assured that you are using fresh and safe foods for your dog.


You can ask whether they are outsourcing some of the ingredients in their pet food and ask which countries they buy it from. A lot of processed pet food packages in the market actually make use of meat and vegetable by-products which include fur, hooves, and animals that have died by various diseases.
Your dog needs a high quality protein diet since that is what their bodies and their metabolism requires. China has a problem when it comes to the implementation of food safety and production but this does not also mean that the whole country has a faulty food producing mechanism.
Look for pet foods that contain human-grade ingredients as well as those that use ingredients which are mainly sourced from the US. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her French Bulldog Max, who is always well-fed. In May 2014, the FDA reported that in the previous seven years, it had received more than 4,800 reports of pet illnesses that could have been related to the consumption of chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all imported from China.
In addition, pet owners are allowing the FDA to perform necropsies on their dear deceased pets for further help in the investigation. A substantial list on the group's Facebook page includes other China-made products, such as Beefeaters, Dogswell, Hartz, VitaLife and SmartBones, just to name a few.
What they did was to suspend the import of several products from China over issues such as false documentation over glycerin as well as the presence of “trace” amounts of antibiotics in some pet foods. Chicken production definitely is one of the major contributors to the production of solid wastes and by outsourcing these products, the US thought that they will be doing the environment good. China is one of the major producers of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, B-12, Vitamin E and taurine which are important components and ingredients in pet foods.
Cyanuric acid also helps to seemingly increase the protein content of dog food and this is probably why it was found in several products. It was added to wheat products to make the dog food appear to be of higher quality due to its high protein content. The FDA however, cleared that these antibiotics were present in such small amounts that they did not pose any significant health risks for the dogs. Remember that these symptoms can appear within hours or even days after the ingestion of the pet food and so it is important to be in constant lookout regarding their health. What is good about freshly prepared dog food also is that the nutrients are more bio-available compared to canned and other processed foods.
If they say that some are from China, then you should look for one that is purely sourced from the US.
These are the most common sources of food contamination whereas human-grade foods are definitely one of the cleanest and most well-maintained products in the market. The first thing that you should see on the ingredients list should be animal meat whether it is beef, chicken, turkey, or veal. There are still good pet food producers in China which make use of good practices and the best manufacturing equipment. As the government had not still identified and prohibited the import of the Chinese products to the US, it would be to your best interest if you can select and purchase products which are produced locally and freshly made. Grain products are added to pet foods in order to increase bulk without costing the producers a lot of money.
This ingredient was also used by some milk manufacturer in China to increase the protein in infant formula which led to the death of six babies and hundreds of thousands more to become ill. Although these antibiotics are prohibited for poultry use in the US, they are actually approved and are widely used in China.
The country had also imposed the death penalty for those who will be found responsible for food contamination especially in cases where human death is involved. We all know that preservatives kill the nutrients that are contained in them and so what could initially be of high nutritional content could already be nutritionally deficient after months on the shelf. Processed pet food may be a problem as most vitamins and minerals come from other countries.
Taurine is not readily available in the market and the only major producers are Japan and China, with Japan only having a limited market.
The Chinese government imposed the death penalty on some of the persons involved in the production of the contaminated baby milk formula.
Your best option would be to look for those that provide raw, organic foods and those that make and deliver the pet food the same day.



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