In March, Australian pet food manufacturer Advance Pet (which is owned by Mars Petcare, the same company that makes brands such as Eukanuba, Iams, and Pedigree) recalled all lots of their Advance Dermocare dog food after reports of dogs who had eaten the product becoming ill with megaesophagus, a digestive disorder where the esophagus becomes enlarged and weakened. Today, the company announced that it would reimburse the veterinary or euthanasia costs for any dog that seemed to contract megaesophagus as a result of eating the food.
Megaesophagus makes it more difficult for dogs to swallow and keep their food down. They are at high risk of developing aspiration pneumonia and, if they survive, are often forced to eat in a specialized high chair, called a “Bailey chair,” for the rest of their lives since megaesophagus has no cure. 74 dogs are reported to have contracted megaesophagus after eating Advance Dermocare dog food, although no cause has yet been determined.
In a statement on their Facebook page, Advance Pet said:
“In the meantime, and as pet owners ourselves, we feel for pet owners who have lost their dogs to megaoesophagus, or whose dogs have been diagnosed with the condition. Despite no root cause being identified, we have commenced the process of contacting pet owners to provide support, including offering to reimburse vet bills.”
In December 2017, 8 Victoria police dogs were diagnosed with megaesophagus after eating Advance Dermocare, and one dog was euthanized due to the severity of their symptoms. Melbourne University then reached out to vets across the country to look for other cases of megaesophagus that were potentially tied to Advance Dermocare.
Unlike the United States, where the pet food industry is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Australia’s pet food industry is unregulated, and there were no laws forcing Advance Pet to inform veterinarians, government officials, or the general population about the potential problem or to recall their food.