June 4, 2009
Virbac recalls VeggieDent chews in Australia
Action spurred by link to kidney disorders in dogs
By: Edie Lau
For The VIN News Service
chews for dogs are off the market in Australia following the discovery
by veterinary researchers of an association between consumption of the
chews and development of acquired proximal renal tubulopathy.
Virbac Animal Health recalled the chews this week after having introduced them to Australia only three months ago.
have not been proven to cause the renal disorder, also known as
Fanconi-like syndrome. The company took action as “a precautionary
measure in the interests of animal welfare and the veterinary
profession,” according to a prepared statement by Bruce Bell, general
manager of Virbac (Australia) Pty. Ltd.
The chew strips,
composed of corn, starch, glycerin, soy, rice, yeast, sorbitol, corn
derivatives and water, are designed to promote canine dental health.
potential problem with VeggieDents was recognized in May by veterinary
researchers who have been trying to determine the cause of acquired
proximal renal tubulopathy in dogs. The Fanconi-like disorder first surfaced in dogs several years ago in the United States and Australia
in association with consumption of chicken jerky snacks made in China.
mimic those of Fanconi, a disease in which kidneys do not properly
resorb electrolytes and nutrients, but lose them in urine. The disorder
is characterized by excessive drinking and urination (polydipsia and
polyuria, or PUPD) and glucose in urine (glucosuria).
Fleeman, a senior lecturer in small animal medicine at the University
of Sydney, and colleagues were working on the Fanconi-like puzzle when
they came across about a half-dozen cases of dogs that developed the
kidney problem but had not had access to Chinese-made dried chicken
In all the cases, the pets had been given VeggieDents, which are designed to be consumed daily.
Virbac opted on Monday to recall the product after discussions with the researchers.
company instructed veterinarians in Australia to pull all stock from
their shelves and return it to their wholesalers for credit. Virbac
also advised veterinarians to dispose of marketing material, and to
contact at their discretion the owners of dogs that use VeggieDents.
chews are still available in Europe, Asia and the United States, where
the company has received no reports of problems associated with the
product. Michael Walsh, marketing manager for dental products at Virbac
Animal Health in Fort Worth, Texas, told the VIN News Service last week
that VeggieDents have been sold in Europe and Japan for about two
years, and in the United States since September.
He said the chews are manufactured by Virbac in Vietnam, and that the ingredients also originate from Vietnam.
Gerard Lim of Virbac Australia told a reporter by e-mail that the
company has sold about 7,000 bags of VeggieDents since the chews were
introduced in his country in March.
Lim noted that “There are no
hypotheses regarding any potential source of toxicity because no
causative association has been established... .”
recall notice points out that VeggieDents sold in Australia differ from
those sold elsewhere in that the product is irradiated as required by
the Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service.
government last week banned irradiation of cat food because of
scientific evidence that the sterilization process was somehow to blame
for neurological problems, including ataxia and tetraplegia, seen in
some cats that ate Orijen brand irradiated dry food made by Champion
PetFoods Ltd., which is based in Canada.
However, dogs fed similarly irradiated food were not known to be affected.
Champion PetFoods has since pulled cat and dog foods from the Australian market.
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