Veterinarians in America are underreporting to the FDA pet health problems due to defective petfood

Veterinarians should ensure that they keep comprehensive records of health problems created by defective commercially produced petfood and pet guardians who suspect food as a culprit in sickness and death of their cat or dog have an obligation to ask their veterinarian to communicate with the FDA on the matter and provide their report to the FDA.

Veterinarians are underreporting pet food health problems to the FDA

Veterinarians are underreporting pet food health problems to the FDA

Veterinarians’ reports can then go hand-in-hand with consumer complaints. Only, in this way, will the FDA be motivated (and be able, they say) to take action against the pet food manufacturer.

The FDA complains that they do not receive enough reports from veterinarians in respect of alleged defective pet food causing ill-health and death in pets despite the fact that they receive many customer complaints.

Without veterinarians reports they say they are unable to take action, as I understand it. The vet’s report should clearly link a specific pet food with a particular illness. For example, if a cat or dog eats various types of pet food made by various manufacturers it would be impossible, the FDA states, to associate a particular pet food to a certain illness unless the vet has isolated the culprit. Therefore the vet’s report needs to be comprehensive and precise.

Here is a specific example of what I am writing about. Purina’s Beneful kibble for dogs has been linked to health problems over many years. Many customers have written to the FDA over the years and nothing has happened. This is incomprehensible to consumers and obviously distressing and frustrating.

In response to one consumer’s complaint about this pet food, Dr Durham the Director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA responded:

“FDA has received complaints about Beneful dry kibble and is looking into them. The complaints the Agency received related to Beneful have been primarily from pet owners, which we value very much, however, many of the reports are lacking key information that FDA would need to help determine appropriate follow up. Where possible, it is extremely helpful to have both the veterinarian and the pet owner provide information to the FDA.”

For me and others, the obvious question having read about this is why don’t veterinarians support customer complaints to the FDA with their comprehensive records? It appears that many vets don’t know what to do, or how to report these pet-food health problems, which seems very odd.

It should be very easy for veterinarians to find out what the FDA requires and to ensure that they keep comprehensive records when there are indications that pet food has caused illness in a patient or patients. If one were cynical one could argue that some veterinarians are reluctant to provide the FDA with their records (if they have them) because they may feel that they are potentially damaging the reputation of a business with which they are associated themselves on a commercial basis (i.e. receiving commissions on sales of pet food at their clinics).

Another reason is that it might be difficult for a vet to categorically associate pet health with a certain food on a scientific basis. They may argue that customers often provide anecdotal evidence which is inadequate. However, where there is a flood of customer complains and observations vets must take the matter seriously.

I don’t know, for sure, the reason why the FDA is not receiving enough reports by veterinarians. However, it is probably fair to say that if their clients, cat and dog guardians, made a point of asking them to file a report at the FDA then they should do it and if they don’t, then questions can be asked. In addition, questions could be asked about whether they are, in fact, keeping records under these circumstances.

Cat and dog guardians have a duty to the wider cat and dog population to gently chide and push their vet to take proper action.

Notes:

  • Source: Susan Thixton and her website Truth About Pet Food (via Sandy).
  • The FDA have the responsibility to ensure the safety of pet and human foods amongst many other responsibilities.
  • There is a lawsuit in progress against Purina concerning Beneful dog food.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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7 Responses

  1. Michele S. says:

    There’s also the strong financial tie-in between vets and the large corporations who manufacture pet foods through subsidiary Companies. (Purina is owned by the NestlĂ© corporation and Royal Canin by the Mars group.)

    Maybe some vets are afraid to speak out against these huge corporations for fear of the potential repercussions?

    • I have a strong suspicion that UK vets are emotionally gagged. They don’t want to rock the boat in any way for fear of losing business. This means they don’t speak up against declawing or pet food products that are dodgy. They are constrained too much by financial considerations it could be argued but, that said, health in general is all based on money and there is no absolute right to good health treatment either for us or our companion animals.

  2. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA says:

    I just remembered something else. A friend had 2 healthy cats die within a month of each other. She had shared on a local bulletin board about some symptoms which were bloating, vomiting, loose stools, and abdominal pain.

    After having several tests done on the first one, the vet had no idea what was wrong. Within a couple of weeks, the cat was euthanized. Within a month, the 2nd cat was experiencing the same symptoms, and had multiple tests. The vet could provide no answers. That cat was also euthanized.

    When the owner questioned the vet about possible causes, the vet said “It doesn’t matter now.”

    I kept asking my friend what she was feeding, but she didn’t answer until her 3rd cat got sick. She’d been feeding Iams kibble. That’s all they ate. I don’t think the vet ever asked what she was feeding her cats.

    I asked my friend to stop feeding Iams, as it’s been recalled many times. I haven’t heard how her 3rd cat is, or if she’s changed the food.

    In spite of all the cat food information I have shared on the BB, many people just don’t make the connection. I guess it’s the same with people who eat junk, and don’t make the connection to their health problems.

    • Interesting comment Sandy. Very sad. Having researched and read about commercial cat food for years, I feel there is a major potential and somewhat overlooked or hidden health problem which is being ignored by the vets and the manufacturers

  3. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA says:

    I recall reading recently about a “gag rule” on vets regarding pet food,but now I can’t seem to find it by searching. I don’t think it was here.

    Does anyone know about this?

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