Feeding your dog Optima in China? Stop.

The last two days we’ve been dealing with a bit of a scare. We got a call from our pet shop asking us if we’d seen the news. Optima – the decent-quality, American-made dog food we’ve always fed our pup – was issuing a major recall because contaminants had been found in it.

Apparently since the end of November about 30 dogs have died in the Yangtze Delta (Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou, etc.) of liver complications – and they all ate Optima dog food.

According to the pet shop, the food was contaminated with “黄曲霉素”, or aflatoxin, an extremely toxic and carcinogenic fungus that can contaminate grains, spices and nuts. In 2006 it was aflatoxin that was responsible for a number of dog deaths that had eaten contaminated Diamond dog food.

The Chinese message boards are buzzing with chatter about this news about Optima (see Google search for Optima’s Chinese name: 优格狗粮), but we’ve not seen anything from “official” channels yet.

Adding confusion is that the message boards are reporting that the China-distributed Optima is manufactured in Australia – which is in conflict with the big “Made in the USA” image on Optima’s Web site.

This is particularly scary for us, as Addie has been very fussy about her food and hasn’t been eating it without some coaxing on our end. And then the other day she threw up – all matching the symptoms of aflatoxin exposure. However, they also match the symptoms of a dog in general, so we’re hopeful. Also, that she’s not lethargic is a good sign she wasn’t exposed.

Here’s what little I know:

Optima Professional Pet Foods is a brand under the Doane International Pet Products. According to the Optima flyer we had lying around the dog food is imported into China through Taiwanese company Natural Pet and then distributed in Mainland China via 北京裕康园商贸有限公司 (Beijing) and 上海瑞宠商贸有限公司 (Shanghai).

Am still waiting for a response from Optima. Meanwhile, we’ve switched Addie to a combination of Purina Pro Plan and Natura Innova – credit to our pet shop, they drove to our house, examined Addie for signs of liver problems (yellowing of the skin/gums/eyes, and enlarging of the abdomen) and switched out all our Optima dog food.

For now we’re just going to watch her closely for any unusual behavior. If anything changes we’ll be taking her to the vet right away, despite the fact that if she has been exposed to aflatoxin and is suffering from liver failure, there’s little a vet can do.

4 Responses

  1. Geez, that sucks. I hope Addie is OK! As you say, those are symptoms of being a dog, and hopefully that’s all they are.

    Your pet shop seems incredible. Whatever happens, you should pimp them on your blog so when someone searches for “pet shop suzhou” they’ll be directed to some good folks.

  2. Shitty to hear. And just after you posted about how awesome she is!
    You’re right though, most dogs are fussy about food. Growing up my dogs would do the same thing so it’s probably nothing to worry about.

  3. Great Vet, we use WangWang, and although the vet appears to be about 17 years old they have always come through for us. I have to say though your post about self medicating probably applies to our animals too especially if you plan to export your animal some day.

  4. Pingback: Optima Dog Food Saga: It’s Done | A China Blog on Suzhou Expat Life | The Humanaught

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*