Australian pet owners are calling for official regulation of the pet food industry as the number of cases of megaesophagus correlated to Mars Petcare Advance Dermocare dog food climbs to more than 100, reported the Australian Broadcasting Company.
Since the outbreak of the disease, a Change.org petition has received more than 41,000 signatures calling for regulation of Australia’s pet food industry. Currently, pet food companies are expected to self-regulate.
Despite the growing number of cases, Mebourne University and Mars Petcare have not determined a causal link between the dog food and the life-threatening illness.
History of megaesophagus and dog food
Mars Petcare Australia manufacturers Advance Dermocare dry dog food. The company voluntarily recalled the dog food in late March. Mars has offered to reimburse the vet bills of dog owners whose pets were stricken with megaesophagus.
Mars Petcare told ABC News that they had run tests for heavy metals, pesticides and neurotoxins on the batch of Advance Dermocare dry dog food produced in January at the company’s Bathhurt facility. However, the company failed to identify a causal link between the dog food and the disease.
A veterinarian said he hopes this event results in increased oversight of the pet food industry by the Australian federal government, reported ABC News. Australian laws don’t require pet food manufacturers to inform government authorities about problems with pet foods. The Australian pet food industry is therefore largely self-regulated, and an Australian government official stated that there are no plans to change this situation.
History of megaesophagus-related dog food recall
The recall came after numerous dogs were affected by megaesophagus, a condition that is generally not associated with food, according to Mars. Mars ran hundreds of tests on ADVANCE Dermocare and no causal link has been found between the condition and our product. Mars recalled the dog food as a precaution until the mystery of the megaoesophagus outbreak is solved.
Starting in December in Victoria, nine police dogs, including one who was euthanized, were affected by megaoesophagus, an enlargement of the esophagus, reported SBS News. One common factor among the dogs was the ADVANCE Dermocare dry dog food.
The recalled bags of ADVANCE Dermocare dog food will have been purchased from specialty retailers and veterinarians. The dog food comes in three-kilogram, eight-kilogram and fifteen-kilogram bags.
Megaesophagus in dogs
Megaesophagus is characterized by generalized enlargement of the muscular tube leading from the throat to the stomach, the esophagus, according to Pet MD. The enlargement is associated with decreased or lack of movement by the esophagus, which reduces the animals ability to move food and liquids into the stomach.
Symptoms of megaesophagus include:
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Nasal discharge
- Increased respiratory noises
- Weight loss
- Extreme hunger or lack of appetite
- Excessive drooling
- Bad breath
- Poor growth
Dogs are more prone to megaesophagus than cats. Certain dog breeds suffer from the condition more frequently. For example, Wire-haired Fox Terriers and Miniature Schnauzers may be born with the problem. German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Great Danes, Irish Setters, Labrador Retrievers, Pugs and Chinese Shar-peis may be more prone to acquiring the disease.