On my drive in to work today I heard a report on WBT radio that a class action lawsuit had been filed in California. The lawsuit, against Purina, alleges dogs have become sick and have even died because of an ingredient in the Beneful line of dog food. The lawsuit quotes some 3,000 dogs who have eaten the dog food in question and subsequently become ill or even died.
Let me begin by saying I do not own any stock in the Nestle Purina company, nor do I feed Purina, and when prescribing veterinary therapeutic diets I prescribe several different brands including Purina as well as Hill's, Royal Canin, and Iams/Eukanuba. With that said, I was certainly suspicious right away by the report, and remain suspicious even after reading articles from several reputable sources. First, the broad range of common symptoms they have quoted in the lawsuit certainly make it difficult to pin this on any one cause. Secondly, many news outlets have reported that the ingredient in question is the same or at least similar to anti-freeze. To that point, chemistry is a wonderfully complicated, or in my case frustratingly complicated subject. What little I do know about chemistry, is that even the smallest of changes in chemical formula can entirely change the type of molecule produced and what that molecule is capable of. From what I am reading folks are getting confused by the ingredient Propylene Glycol. This molecule is found in many commonly consumed foods, both human and pet, as well as beverages as a preservative. And, just to illustrate my point, POLYethylene Glycol is the active ingredient in Mira Lax laxative, while just a "poly" away Ethylene Glycol, is the traditional anti-freeze found in your car. Yes, ethylene glycol is extremely toxic to your pets but I have personally prescribed polyethylene glycol to soften the stools of my patients after surgery.
With that said, companies, or at least their chemists, do make mistakes. But so do lawyers. So, for the time being I am going to pay close attention to the Purina Dog Food Company "Beneful" website as well as the AVMA and the news in general. Please click on the links above to see what Purina has to say about the recent accusations as well as how the AVMA is telling us vets to advise our clients. And should you decide to transition your dog away from Beneful to something else, remember to do it over the course of 3 or 4 days to get their system accustomed to the new food. Nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution.
Please continue to check our website and Facebook feed for updates.
-Dr. Adam McGarity 2/26/2015