Purina has drawn social media scorn from pet owners who contend its food has sickened or even killed their furry friend — claims the company shot down as “rumors.”
The St. Louis-based pet products company has been under fire since some of the 73,000-plus members in a public Facebook called “Saving Pets One Pet @ A Time” posted reports that their dogs experienced seizures, vomiting and diarrhea from eating Purina’s Pro Plan line, which offers a broader range of “performance” formulas that are more specific to dog breeds, per Purina’s website.
As of Jan. 15, the Facebook group reportedly received nearly 200 anecdotal reports of sick animals — 151 dogs and 46 cats — as well as 51 deaths.
One pet owner, Kristina Steele Hunt, pointed the finger at Purina after her 3-year-old dog, Bob, unexpectedly died.
“He stopped eating and was throwing up. He got sick very quickly and his spleen was severely enlarged and his kidneys were shutting down,” Steele Hunt wrote in the Facebook group.
The vet “said he had to have been poisoned,” she added, noting that “Bob’s diet was Purina Pro Plan beef and rice. We are at a loss for words right now and need answers.”
A Purina spokeswoman pushed back on the social media backlash against the company.
There is “absolutely no data showing us that there is a pattern of problems” with any Purina product, Lorie Westhoff, a spokeswoman for the Nestlé-owned company, told The Post.
Westhoff said that “while consumers are posting stories on this Facebook group, we are NOT getting an influx of complaints directly. If and when we get any complaint, we take it seriously and investigate. This lack of complaints coming to our team is telling.”
Westhoff told The Post that “Purina has a comprehensive quality and safety program in place that is designed to catch any potential issues long before a product would ever make it to a pet owner.”
“Across our factory network, we conduct more than 100,000 quality checks DAILY — from testing as ingredients come in, throughout the production process, and finished product,” she added, noting that this information will soon be on Purina’s website in an updated statement.
“We have been in contact with the FDA (we reached out to them) and they are aware of the rumors,” Westhoff said.
The Post reached out to the FDA for comment.
The warnings against Purina intensified late last year after popular TikTok user Rachel Fusaro — who boasts more than 276,000 followers on the app, where she shares, “dog tips,” per her bio — wrote that “over 40 pets have been reported sick or worse after eating Purina.”
“I am not confirming whether there is or isn’t anything wrong with Purina,” she said in one of at least three TikTok videos she posted on the topic, which have collectively amassed over 2 million views as of Monday.
Fuasro added she “personally would stop” using Purina products even though the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t issue a recall.
The TikToker pointed to anecdotes posted in the “Saving Pets One Pet @ A Time” Facebook group, including one from a user identifying herself as a veterinarian who wrote in December: “This week (so far) I’ve had several dogs come in to the clinic I fill in for with non-specific symptoms such as lethargy, eye irritation/discharge, loss of appetite,” among other issues.
The vet, Barbara Mayhew Fox, went on to warn pet owners against specific foods, including many Purina Pro Plan and its “prescription Pro Plan.”
“Keep in mind that as Big Pet Food continues to grow, they’re looking for the least expensive ingredients and the fastest methods of production to keep their profit levels up. They DO NOT care about your pets health. They want to make $$ off your furry kids, no matter what the cost is to them,” Mayhew Fox declared.
Worried pet owners have encouraged a boycott of Purina foods, but Westhoff insisted “we know this is a rumor because we have absolutely no data showing us that there is a pattern of problems with any specific product.”
“As a company that feeds more than 100 million cats and dogs each year, we don’t take risks with pet health ever,” Westhoff added in a statement to The Post.
According to independent product testing organization Consumer Reports, the FDA has said that it “is aware of reports of pet illnesses and is in the process of evaluating those reports.”
“In at least one instance, Purina has offered to cover the pet owner’s vet bills, Consumer Reports said, sharing a post from the “Saving Pets One Pet @ A Time” group from late last month that detailed a dog’s experience with seizures while eating Purina food.
“Last week Purina asked me for all information about Trinity, my vets & copies of my vet bills. … Told me they are sending a check to cover my vet bills & coupons for food reimbursement,” wrote the pet owner, who goes by Becky James on Facebook. “They never said yes there is a problem with that particular food but were super nice & offered all help. They also stated any future vet bills on Trinity I can submit & they will cover.”
Purina had issued a recall last March for its Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental prescription dry dog food after the FDA said it caused “potentially elevated levels of vitamin D.” The company blamed “food supplier error” for the bad batch.