Skip to content

Dog Food Made in China – Controversy, Melamine, Risks, Brands & FAQs

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Pet food recalls in 2007 caused public distrust in Chinese-made dog food due to melamine poisoning and lack of regulation.
  • The FDA issued a recall of over 150 pet food brands including moist, canned, and dry dog and cat food, plus dog treats.
  • Symptoms of improperly made dog food include vomiting, diarrhea with blood or mucus, and increased water consumption.
  • China has since implemented new guidelines and standards for dog food production to address concerns of contamination.
  • Some dog food brands, including Purina, may still contain ingredients sourced from China, and it's best to check with manufacturers before purchasing.
Written by Viena
Viena is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Thursday 20 August 2020
Last updated on
Friday 19 May 2023
dog food made in china
This page may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

Since the 2007 pet food recalls, many pet owners have become wary of dog food made in China. The incident caused concerns, and pet parents started to check the origin and testing of the brands they purchase. Additionally, the reputation of Chinese snacks for pets has not been great, making some citizens more cautious of foreign-made products due to different testing policies.

However, it’s important to note that not all Chinese dog food is unsafe. While some products may have undergone insufficient testing, most dog food labels indicate the country of origin and undergo safety testing. Still, it’s crucial to be vigilant and check the ingredients of your pet’s food to prevent them from consuming poisonous snacks.

FDA Melamine Pet Food Recall

In 2007, several cats and dogs died due to toxic pet food, resulting in an FDA pet food recall on Chinese-made food for dogs. Chinese manufacturers added melamine, a toxic chemical, to premixes as a cheap protein content booster. The FDA had to step in and test the pet foods, and many manufacturers worldwide had to recall their products since almost all pet food manufacturers used premixes.

After the FDA traced the poisonous dog food from China, the Chinese government shut down Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. Many companies voluntarily recalled more than 150 pet food brands, including moist, canned, and dry dog and cat food, plus dog treats. The recalled brands include Menu Foods, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Royal Canin, Sunshine Mills, The Blue Buffalo Company, Kirkland Signature, and Diamond Pet Foods.

In conclusion, Chinese-made pet food caused the deaths of many cats and dogs due to the addition of toxic melamine to premixes. As a result, many pet food brands had to recall their products worldwide. Although this incident occurred more than a decade ago, it is a heartbreaking reminder to pet owners to be mindful of the food they give their pets


Chinese manufacturers did not add toxic melamine directly to pet food that caused the deaths of cats and dogs. Instead, they mixed the chemical to premixes as a cheap protein content booster. Unfortunately, people found this out only after several felines, and canines already died. And eventually, in 2007, the FDA had to step in and test the pet foods.

Since almost all pet food manufacturers used premixes, they had to recall not only Chinese dog food. As a result, this unfortunate event also affected a lot of manufacturers worldwide. And, in 2008, the jury indicted two Chinese businesses and an American company relative to the poisonous ingredients in pet food.

chinese dog food
Many pet parents are hesitant to buy dog food made in China.


When the FDA traced the poisonous dog food from China, the Chinese government immediately shut down Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. And since 2007, different companies voluntarily recalled more than 150 pet food brands. These brands included moist, canned, and dry dog and cat food, plus dog treats.

We understand that some of these brands are as follows:

  • Menu Foods: It recalled more than 50 brands of dog food and over 40 brands of cat food. The recalled foods included wet foods and “cuts and gravy” product line. It also recalled all its food brands with wheat gluten ingredients. [source]
  • Nestlé Purina PetCare: The company recalled all varieties of Alpo “Prime Cuts in Gravy.” [source]
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition: It recalled the Science Diet Savory Cuts and the dry cat food “Prescription Diet m/d Feline.” [source]
  • Royal Canin: They pulled out from the Canada market the canned Medi-Cal Feline Dissolution formula. Likewise, they recalled eight varieties of Sensible Choice and three varieties of Veterinary Diet. It also included six varieties of Kasco dog food and one variety of Kasco cat food in the USA. [source]
  • Sunshine Mills: The company recalled about 20 brands of dry dog biscuits. [source]
  • The Blue Buffalo Company: It pulled out from the shelves the Spa Select Kitten dry food, including canned and biscuit products. [source]
  • Kirkland Signature: Costco had to recall Super Premium Canned Food with best-by dates from August 21, 2008, to April 15, 2009. [source]
  • Diamond Pet Foods: The manufacturer pulled out the Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Kitten, Puppy Formula, and Nutra Nuggets Lamb Meal. Also, it recalled the Diamond Lamb & Rice Formula for Dogs and Rice Formula dry dog food. [source]

You can find more brands and details about the 2007 pet food recalls scandal on this Wikipedia article, and this timeline.

Pet Food Shortage in Shelters

In 2007, there was a recall of several dog food brands from China that was the biggest in US history. This contamination greatly affected pet shelters, as most pet foods were contaminated. As a result, pet shelters had to find alternatives to feed the animals under their care. Some had to cook pet food themselves, while others used human foods that were safe for dogs. However, this was costly and unsustainable for many shelters.

To ensure that the animals had something to eat, most shelters had to rely on pet food donations. Unfortunately, due to the widespread use of poisonous ingredients, they had to discard the recalled pet foods they had, even if it was financially difficult for them.

The public response to this incident was severe, with thousands of animals getting sick and dying due to eating poisoned pet foods made in China. The combination of melamine and cyanuric acid in the food formed crystals in the kidneys of dogs and cats, leading to renal disease and failure.

Pet owners affected by the incident filed class-action lawsuits, and a $24 million settlement was reached. Half of this money went to pet owners, while the other half went to lawyers’ fees and other expenses. While some owners were satisfied with the settlement, others believed that the amount was insignificant compared to what they went through and spent on medical treatments.

The government’s response to the incident was to close a Chinese manufacturing company and indict businesses involved in the risks associated with Chinese dog food. The FDA also developed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, which provided specific actions to prevent food contamination, including both human foods and food-animal feeds, including locally made and Chinese dog food.

Some of the provisions that took effect immediately included the FDA’s emergency access to company records and its authority to mandate product recalls if companies refuse to do so voluntarily. The FSMA also includes a Foreign Supplier Verification Program that requires importers to verify that their foreign suppliers comply with hazard analysis and preventive controls program. Additionally, the FDA conducts scheduled inspections and re-inspections of facilities to ensure that they pose no health risks.

Public Response

Thousands of animals ate the poisoned pet foods made in China. And, many of these animals got sick, worse died. When the melamine and cyanuric acid combined, they formed crystals in the kidneys of the dogs and cats. These crystals eventually lead to renal disease and failure.

Affected pet owners decided to file class-action suits. The court consolidated these cases and addressed it by a $24 million settlement. Half of this money went to pet owners while the remaining half went to lawyers’ expenses and other fees.

Owners of affected animals considered the amount minuscule compared to what they went through and spent on medical treatments. Meanwhile, pet parents of animals that died said that their dogs and cats were irreplaceable. Thus, despite the settlement, manufacturers were not able to regain the trust of the public on their products. Consequently, pet owners started to appreciate the importance of using natural foods for their pets.

Government Response

The immediate response of the government over this pet food incident was the closure of a Chinese manufacturing company. Also, the government indicted the businesses involved in the Chinese dog food risks. And, in 2011, the FDA came up with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA designed the FSMA rules to make clear specific actions to prevent food contamination. These rules apply to both human foods and food-animal feeds, including locally made and Chinese dog food.

Some provisions immediately took effect, like the emergency FDA access to company records. Also, it provides the FDA an authority to mandatory recall products in case a company refuses to do it voluntarily. As for concerns on foreign suppliers, the FSMA has a Foreign Supplier Verification Program. It obligates importers to have plans in verifying that their foreign suppliers comply with hazard analysis and preventive controls program. The FDA also has a scheduled inspection and re-inspection of facilities to ensure that they pose no health risks.

Effects of Melamine on Dogs

Melamine is a small molecule that contains nitrogen. It has various uses in industries, such as a binding agent, flame retardant, and for making plates, utensils, glue, countertops, and laminates.

When melamine combines with cyanuric acid, it can form crystals in urine and kidney tissue, leading to kidney failure. A 2007 study found that melamine or cyanuric acid alone did not cause renal failure in cats. However, when combined, these compounds caused intra-tubular crystals and renal failure in cats. The FDA is still researching the interaction between melamine and related compounds to understand how they cause illness and death in pets.

There have been problems with Chinese dog foods due to more than one chemical substance. Veterinarians are concerned about the symptoms dogs experience compared to the ingredients in the pet food product. Besides melamine, other chemicals found in contaminated dog food from China include:

  • Propylene glycol: a substance used to provide moisture in wet dog food products. The FDA approves of using it in pet food products.
  • Mycotoxins: these are by-products of mold metabolism found in grains like corn, wheat, and rice, which producers use as inexpensive additives in pet foods. They have adverse effects on your dog’s health.
  • Cyanuric acid: scientists found this compound in toxic dog foods in 2007, along with melamine. Some experts claim that it can cause necrosis and other biological effects on the body, besides kidney failure.

In summary, melamine can cause kidney failure when combined with cyanuric acid. Other chemicals in dog food, such as mycotoxins and propylene glycol, can also have adverse effects on your dog’s health. The FDA is still researching how these substances cause pet illnesses and death.

Other Substances

Further, there had been issues with Chinese dog foods. And, researchers linked more than one chemical substance with the pet food problem. Even veterinarians posed concerns regarding the symptoms on the dogs compared to the ingredients of the pet food product. Nevertheless, here are some other chemicals relative to Chinese dog food contamination, aside from melamine:

Propylene glycol – This ingredient provides moisture in dog food and commonly found in wet food products. The FDA approves of the use of this substance for pet food products.

Mycotoxins – These are by-products of mold metabolism in grains. It has significant adverse effects on your dog’s health. Corns, wheat, rice, and other types of grains contain mycotoxins. And, producers use these grains as inexpensive additives in pet foods.

Cyanuric acid – Scientists found this compound in the toxic dog foods in 2007, together with melamine. Aside from kidney failure, some say that it has other biological effects on the body like necrosis.

chemical substance in chinese dog food
Beware of the chemical substances added in Chinese dog food.

Risks of Dog Food Made in China

It’s important to be aware of the signs that your dog has eaten improperly made food, like chicken or duck jerky and jerky treats wrapped in fruit, yam, or sweet potatoes. In 2007, there was a case of poisoning caused by these types of dog foods.

The symptoms of contaminated food can be simple or life-threatening, and they may appear within hours or days of ingestion. Keep an eye out for the following signs of illness in your pet:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy and less activity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea with blood or mucus
  • Increased water consumption
  • Frequent urination

Veterinarians who treated the affected dogs reported various risks and problems, including:

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Liver failure
  • Increased glucose levels in the urine
  • Tremors
  • Hives
  • Convulsions
  • Skin irritations
  • Widespread cancer

It’s important to monitor your pet’s health and seek veterinary care if you notice any of these symptoms. By being vigilant and taking action early, you can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy

Lack of Regulation in Pet Food Production

The issue of contaminated dog food was a widespread problem in China due to a lack of regulations for pet food manufacturing. Unlike in other countries, there were no clear rules governing the production of pet food. Instead, a department handling the approval of human foods was in charge.

Additionally, local governments in China prioritize quantity over quality when it comes to pet food production. Moreover, the country faces many environmental pollution concerns, and even human food is getting contaminated. This situation makes it difficult to produce safe and healthy pet food.

However, the Chinese government has taken action to address the reports of dog food contamination. The government has implemented new standards and guidelines for pet food production and created a separate agency to assess and gather information about pet food producers.

Furthermore, they offer rewards for those who report companies with inappropriate production practices. Finally, the Chinese government imposes severe penalties, including the death penalty, for those responsible for food contamination, especially when there are human deaths involved.

Inadequate Food Regulations

China is a big source of pet food imports for the US, but some people worry about the safety of the food because there aren’t as many strict laws for pet food as there are for human food.

Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t always check the pet food coming from China, so it can still end up in our stores. However, it’s not just China that has problems with pet food contamination, so it’s important to know where your pet’s food comes from. Even though pet food companies aren’t required to tell you where they get their ingredients from, it’s a good idea to buy from trusted brands.

Dog Food Brands That Are Made in China

Many product ingredients come from China. Aside from pet foods, many countries import substances for vitamins and supplements from them. Thus, it is tough to avoid brands and products without any components coming from China.

Pets eating commercial food products, like kibble and canned foods, get nourishment from the added supplements and vitamins. We cannot shun away from these pet foods since our dogs also need them. If only we can provide our pets with a fresh kill for their daily meals. However, some manufacturers look for sources that offer lower prices. And China is one of the countries that offer affordable pet food ingredients.

Below are some of the manufacturers, we believe, sourced their pet food ingredients from China as of May 2015 (source).

  1. Artemis Company
  2. Costco’s Brand
  3. Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc.
  4. Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc.
  5. Mars Petcare US Inc.
  6. Nestle
  7. Petsmart Label Brand
  8. Triumph Pet Industries Inc.
  9. Wellpet LLC

Take note that the following list is a few years old and might be outdated as of today.

So, if you think you are getting China-free dog food, you may have to think again. Always make an extra effort to find out the content of your pet’s food and supplemental diet. You can call the manufacturer to ask about the protein additives and glutens as ingredients. You may also want to ask the country of origin of these additives. And, if you can, feed your dog several different foods. This way, you won’t have much trouble removing a brand once recalled.

Dog Food Made in China – FAQs

Before giving your fur baby a commercial dog food, it is wise to double-check the contents and ingredients. You don’t want to give something to your pet that you might regret in the end.

What Dog Foods are Made in China?

We believe there are dog food brands that sourced their ingredients from China like those manufactured by Nestle, Costco, Hill’s Pet, and more. However, some pet food products don’t have the word China on the label. But, these products may still contain China’s dog food ingredients as additives or supplements. Therefore, it is advisable to check with the manufacturer about the dog food ingredients.

what dog foods are made in china
Always check with the manufacturer about the ingredients in the dog food.

Is Purina Dog Food Made in China?

Purina PetCare products were some of those recalled in 2007. Although most of their dog foods are made in Missouri, USA, some of their treats may be from other countries, including China. And, even if these products are from the US, it is not easy to find out where the ingredients come from. So, better do some research and check with the manufacturers if you have doubts about certain products.

Are Dog Treats Made in China Safe?

Like every country, some dog food brands are safe and some are not. Always check the labels, testing, and food regulations before a purchase of dog food, regardless of country.

Is Beneful Dog Food Made in China?

Beneful is a product of Purina, which has a factory in China. Purina also imports ingredients from this country.

The best you can do is to stay clear of dog foods from China. Especially, those that had a history of contamination like chicken and duck jerky products. You can try cooking your pet’s food yourself to ensure your dog’s safety and health. If not, you can look for pet foods that have human-grade ingredients or those sourced from the US. It is also for your pet’s best interest if you purchase freshly-made and locally-produced products, instead.

9 comments on “Dog Food Made in China – Controversy, Melamine, Risks, Brands & FAQs”

  1. Deborah

    Walmart sells a Chicken treat “Purina Waggin Train Chicken Jerky Tenders”.
    Product material from China. Guessing That it is bagged up in the United States St. Louis. I do not want to purchase from China as much as possible and especially when it’s almost 100% meat From China. There human abuse is hideous and they are not trustworthy and anything as a country. I’m looking for a substitute since my dog loves these

  2. Nick

    Hi! I just read your article and found it very interesting! I was wondering if you were aware of any countries that have banned Chinese pet food imports as a result of their history of little regulation? For example I know that Singapore does not allow pet food from China and was wondering if there were any other countries that followed this practice?


  3. Lisa Wright

    What pet foods Are Safe to feed pets that are not from china. Name bra ds please

    1. Nichole

      I believe Bill-Jac dog food is 100% from America. Definitely double check though.

    2. Keith warren

      Their only focus is money and cheating, they produce milk and sold it to mothers of small children, killing some and damaging other children for life. They don’t value life, just money and eating, they care less about your pets and don’t have any morals.

      Don’t buy anything from China !


  4. Lisa

    Frustrated cause everything appears to be connected to China. Searched for several days and get no safe an swer

  5. Diane

    Lost a Lab Chow Mix in 2004 that we found out later ate tainted Melamine in his dog food from a neighbor that fed their Husky the same food. The Husky died before Chief did. We miss you and love you Chief!

    1. Nichole

      I’m so sorry for your loss! May I ask what food it was?

  6. Sam Scofield

    I wish someone will do an investigation on Aozi dog food. I believe their label and content are nothing but lies. So many pet owners have had bad experiences with this brand from vomiting to diarrhea with their pets. Its manufactured in China and is being pushed as organic and healthy especially in the Philippines. You cant find any relible information on this product or any real case studies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *