A note of explanation: Mindy is just one of many pet owners who believe a Purina product to be behind the illness or death of their dogs and cats. She has made a formal Consumer Complaint report to the FDA.
Mindy graciously agreed to share Snoops’s story with us in the hope that it will help to prevent other tragedies.
Snoops fell ill the last week of October 2023.
“My 9-year old sweet boy…was playful, happy and just fine before this,” according to Mindy, his owner.
Then she opened a new bag of Purina Pro Plan food, and everything started to change.
“He started not feeling well, he had thrown up a few times, he stopped wanting to eat his food,” Mindy said. “I immediately suspected the food!! I stopped feeding it, called Purina. They said they had not had any complaints, which seemed funny to me because I was seeing complaints that same month on Chewy.
“One morning he woke up and could hardly walk or lift his head. I took him to the vet and had blood work done. His liver enzymes and something I think with the gallbladder were really high. He had a UTI. They admitted him to the pet hospital for a few days. The vet said yes, there was a possibility kibble could cause this! They had him on meds and fluids. His numbers dropped a little bit so they sent him home.”
After a short while, Snoops started going downhill. He developed jaundice, and Mindy’s veterinarian recommended an ultrasound. The specialist who reviewed the results expressed concern about the appearance of Snoops’s liver and pancreas.
“At this point I was trying anything to save my sweet baby,” Mindy said. “He wasn’t eating much. He lost a lot of weight. One night he started throwing up all night so the next day we admitted him back to the pet hospital.
“After a few days I knew he probably wasn’t going to make it…I knew we had to have him euthanized. I called my daughters to come say goodbye. I still didn’t want to make that decision to have my sweet baby put down, it broke my heart in a million pieces.
“Right before they were going to come in and euthanize him, I had alone time with him. I picked him up and put him on my chest against my heart like I always used to do. It was his comfort place. I told him it was OK to let go, this little boy just couldn’t fight anymore, that I would be ok and he could let go… he sighed deeply, contently and I felt him pass away in my arms”
“Snoops was my little soul mate, my little constant companion, my first fur baby, I loved him more than words! I am so angry at Purina that they seemed to have no care!! This was my baby’s life in your hands! They offered some coupons!
“I tried to spread the word to hopefully save other fur babys but so many were not willing to hear or believe it. I feel so guilty having fed that food and I wish so much I had known then what I know now, I tried so hard to save my sweet boy.”
The latest numbers
As of January 6, 2024, the public Facebook group Saving Pets One Pet @ A Time has received reports of 314 sick animals (233 dogs and 81 cats) in the USA and Canada.
Ninety-one (91) of them have died.
The FDA has not yet released any information on the number of complaints the agency has received.
What is the FDA doing?
FDA is aware of reports of pet illnesses and is in the process of evaluating those reports.
In response to our request for comment, we received the following statement on January 4, 2024:
“We encourage pet owners or their veterinarians to submit reports of illness or other adverse events associated with pet food directly to FDA by following the instructions on this page: How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.”
FDA spokesperson, January 4, 2024
How to report a pet illness
The FDA relies heavily on reports from pet owners and veterinarians to alert them to safety issues with pet foods. Especially useful are reports that include veterinary information and details on the suspect food (brand, variety, batch codes, etc.).
Most of all, the FDA is looking for pet owners who still possess partial or unopened bags of the suspect food.
If your pet is sick or has died, and you suspect the pet food to be the cause, please ask your veterinarian to file an Adverse Event report with the FDA.
Whether or not a veterinarian agrees to file a report, pet owners can file directly with the FDA. Prepare to make your report by assembling as much information about your pet’s symptoms, any lab reports (eg., blood work), and whatever information you have on the specific product(s) you have fed your pet. This includes brand and variety names, lot code, expiration date, and bar code information, all of which can be found on the package.
There are two options for filing, which are explained on the FDA web page, How to Report a Pet Food Complaint
Option 1: Contact the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for your state by telephone (in the case of California, there are separate coordinators for Northern and Southern California). The list of telephone numbers is available at: Consumer Complaint Coordinators.
Option 2: File on-line using the FDA Safety Reporting Portal. Simply click on the “Report as Guest” button and follow the step-by-step directions.
“A complete and compelling account of the hidden and not-so-hidden ways the food we give our beloved pets can be contaminated.” – JoNel Aleccia, Health Reporter, Food & Nutrition, The Associated Press.
“An invaluable resource for busy pet owners” – Food Safety News
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