Mars Petcare Dog Food linked to deadly illness in Australia
After news broke that nine Australian police dogs became ill with a rare disease, consumers began reporting pets were suffering the same illness linked to the same dog food, Advance Dermocare manufactured by Mars Petcare AU. The Australian pet food has been recalled…but there is more to the story.
Nine Australian police dogs – all fed Mars Advance Dermocare dog food – have been diagnosed with megaesophagus, a devastating illness that causes enlargement of the esophagus. Megaesophagus causes dogs to basically starve to death. Food that should travel down the esophagus into the stomach, instead remains in the esophagus. One Australian police dog has been euthanized because of the condition, it is likely others will see the same fate.
News reports are stating this condition is “not usually linked to food” – but actually, that is not correct. Megaesophagus has been directly linked to dog food in recent years, specifically to trace amounts of the ingredient ‘urea’ – which possibly could be added to a pet food to increase the protein analysis.
In March 2015 Latvian veterinarian pathologist Dr. Ilze Matīse‑VanHoutana began an investigation of dogs in Latvia diagnosed with megaesophagus. Within the first six months of 2016, more than 80 dogs were diagnosed. The common link to all dogs was a dog food; DoGo dog food. Dr. Matīse‑VanHoutana determined that the dog food contained trace amounts of “urea (also known as carbamide)”. Dr. Matīse‑VanHoutana was threatened by her own government and the dog food manufacturer when she released her findings, and as her TedX talk describes – so were pet owners that shared stories of dog illness and death linked to the dog food (Click Here to view her TedX talk).
Wikipedia defines “Urea” as: “Urea serves an important role in the metabolism of nitrogen-containing compounds by animals and is the main nitrogen-containing substance in the urine of mammals.”
A “substance in the urine of mammals” is an AAFCO defined feed ingredient. AAFCO defines “Urea” as (bold added): “is predominantly urea but may contain other non-toxic nitrogenous compounds which are present as by-products from the commercial synthesis and processing of Urea. It must contain not less than 45% nitrogen (equivalent to 281.25% crude protein).”
Why would a “substance in the urine of mammals” ever be fed to animals? Ever be found in a dog food?
Perhaps it is because the substance analyzes as very high in protein.
Think back to the deadly 2007 pet food recall. In 2007 melamine contaminated pet food ingredients (vegetable protein ingredients such as wheat gluten) were responsible for thousands of pet deaths and illnesses. Reports in 2007 stated the melamine was added to the vegetable protein ingredients to boost the protein content, making the ingredient more valuable for unscrupulous Chinese exporters.
Perhaps history has repeated itself in Latvia in 2015/16 and now in Australia. Perhaps an ingredient used to boost the protein content of a dog food is being added by a pet food manufacturer or perhaps by an ingredient supplier solely to give the appearance the pet food is high in protein. Resulting in the death of more pets.
After the 2007 pet food recall, the U.S. Congress required the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to…
Section 1002 Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food
Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services…shall by regulation establish—
(1) ingredient standards and definitions with respect to pet food;
Congress required this pet food safety update in an effort to prevent another deadly disaster. Even though the FDA was required to complete this task by September 2009 – the work has not been done. To date, pet food consumers do not have legally established pet food ingredient standards.
Example to why legally established ingredient standards are so important: In 2007, we learned that melamine was added to vegetable protein ingredients such as wheat gluten. In 2007 there was no ‘standard’ of quality for wheat gluten. A standard of quality could be something like this: ‘wheat gluten must be 99% wheat gluten with less than 1% impurities’. Impurities such as melamine. In 2007 the ingredient WAS wheat gluten, but wheat gluten with an added toxic substance added to it.
Legally established pet food ingredient standards would be a uniform standard of quality for each and every ingredient; a legal quality the ingredient would be held to. Without a legal standard of quality for each and every pet food ingredient, history can easily repeat itself.
Legal pet food ingredient standards need to be established globally. There is NO excuse.
At this time we do not know if the Mars Petcare Australian dog food contained urea. Mars stated “We have now run hundreds of tests on Advance Dermocare and have not found a link between the condition and our product.”
It is my personal hope that Latvian veterinarian pathologist Dr. Ilze Matīse‑VanHoutana reaches out to the Australian pet food authorities and can offer research assistance. When more is learned about this situation, it will be shared.
In the meantime, U.S. pet food consumers deserve to have our promised by Congress ingredient standards. Please write your representatives in Congress and ask they why FDA has not completed this requirement of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (Section 1002, Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food). Ten and a half years past the deadline…is too long for us to wait for pet food safety.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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