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Pet food warning

If you feed your dogs Optima dog food, made by the Doane’ Pet Care Company for Mars Incorporated, then you should pay attention to this story.

 

 

One of the Optima foods from the U.S.

One of the Optima foods from the U.S.

There is an Optima dog food sold in China which has been causing dogs to become sick and die from what appears to be aflatoxin poisoning.  Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring chemical that comes from a fungus sometimes found on corn and other crops. It can cause severe liver damage.  Right now it’s not clear if the Optima dog food sold in China is the same Optima that’s sold in the U.S.  Apparently the people feeding the food in China believed the food to be imported but the Doane and Mars companies have not confirmed any involvement with the food.  Some dog foods in China appear to be knock-off versions of dog foods, so it makes identifying the manufacturer of the food difficult.

 

 

However, if you are feeding Optima in the U.S. (or elsewhere) you may want to exercise some caution right now.

 

Here’s the Associated Press story:

 

Shanghai seller stops sales of suspect dog food

By ELAINE KURTENBACH 

SHANGHAI, China (AP) — A local distributor of a popular brand of dog food said Monday it had suspended sales of the product following reports that dogs who ate it had died from aflatoxin poisoning.

A customer service manager at Shanghai Yidi Pet Co. said the company stopped selling Optima brand dog food last week and notified its customers not to feed it to their pets after receiving complaints that dogs became sick after eating it.

“It’s upsetting to see so many dogs getting sick from the food. There must be some serious problems,” said Gu, who gave only his last name as is common with many media-shy Chinese. (more

 

I don’t want to be alarmist about this issue but I do take dog food problems very seriously now after the dog food recalls in 2007.  The FDA confirmed that a couple of thousand cats and dogs died, and the real number was probably even higher.  In that case the culprit was melamine — a cheap protein filler that is toxic to animals and people.

 

There have been recalls and pet deaths due to aflatoxin poisoning in the past.  One well-known pet food company in the U.S. settled a large court case a few months ago based on aflatoxin poisoning.

 

It’s cases like these which have led many people to begin cooking for their dogs themselves or to using a raw diet.  Of course, those diets are not totally free of possible contamination problems either since they still rely on food (especially meat) from outside sources.

 

To be honest, it’s just not easy to always feel confident about the food we feed our pets, despite regulations and inspections in this country.  I won’t go into great detail here, but there are a couple of books out that do detail some of the horrors of the pet food industry.

 

I think, on the whole, if you are careful you can usually find good foods for your dog, but you have to be continually vigilant about ingredient changes, changes in where foods are manufactured, when companies are bought out, and other things that can affect the quality of the food you feed your dog.  How many times have you been happily feeding a food to your dogs for months or years only to see a drastic change in their weight or coat?  When you investigate you may discover that the dog food you’ve been feeding has been bought up by a larger company and they’ve changed the formula without warning.  It’s very frustrating.  That’s why you have to be alert for changes in your dog’s coat and condition all the time, even when you’re feeding the same food.  Even each batch of dog food can be different.

 

As you feed your dog it’s a good idea to keep old bags after you finish them, or at least keep labels for a while.  That way if your dog experiences any health problems later you will have something that could be tested, or a lot number and manufacturing date.  Sometimes people are not reimbursed for veterinary expenses due to dog food problems because they do not have any proof that their dog ate the food.  So, keep bags or labels until you’re sure your dog is not going to have any ill-effects from a food.

 

Again, we should note that it is unconfirmed whether the Optima in China is the same Optima here in the U.S.  But until the companies make some comment, you should use caution if you feed this food.

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January 13, 2009 - Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , ,

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