Petco Removes Treats Linked to Pet Deaths From Shelves

Both Petco and PetSmart announced in May that they would remove the treats from shelves. Debbie [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

Petco announced Monday that it has removed Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its website and its 1,300 stores over concerns the treats have sickened and killed more than 1,000 U.S. dogs since 2007.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been investigating the treats after receiving more than 4,800 complaints of illness and death from owners of pets that consumed the jerky treats from China.

Tests haven't confirmed any connection between the chicken, duck or sweet potato treats and the thousands of cases reported in U.S. cats and dogs. However, both Petco and rival pet retailer PetSmart vowed to ban the treats in May.

PetSmart said Monday it plans to have the Chinese-made treats off its shelves by March.

All of Petco's treats are now made in the U.S. or in places such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia or South America, according to Petco Vice President John Sturm. He said the company risked tens of millions of dollars by changing vendors.The FDA continues to investigate the Chinese jerky treats, and in 2013 the agency proposed new safety standards for pet and animal food.

The rule requires companies that make animal feed, pet food, pet treats or the raw ingredients used in such products to meet a higher standard of production.

While the FDA has rules that prohibit contaminants in pet food, until recently, companies haven’t had to follow the same manufacturing standards as human foods.

What to do if you feed your pet jerky products

The FDA advises not to substitute treats for food in general and cautions owners of small pets to be especially careful in limiting the amounts they consume.

Stop feeding your pet these treats if the animal shows any of the following signs, which could occur within hours to days after ingestion: decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water drinking or urination.

If symptoms are severe or last more than 24 hours, contact your veterinarian and report the illness to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area.