Petag's Esbilac puppy milk contains heavy metal copper

Independent lab tests of Petag's Esbilac puppy milk have revealed it contains twice the maximum allowed of heavy metal copper as per government standards. Results also revealed that the contents are 17.6% fiber while the label states it has "0% crude fiber." A report was filed against Petag with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on 9/11/2009.

Over the last few months wildlife rehabilitators across the nation have been complaining about problems with "new" Esbilac. Raccoon, skunk, opossum, squirrel and bunny babies were getting severe diarrhea and dying.

Various organizations contacted Petag headquarters and complained about the problems. They were told by Judy that Petag merely changed their manufacturing process to "spray drying." The product was now supposedly more "digestible." Petag refused to refund unopened bags of Esbilac stating there is nothing wrong with the product.

9/10/2009 Animal Advocates sent a sterile sample of Esbilac straight from the Petag factory to an independent lab in California. September 24 they received the results which showed the contaminant heavy metal copper and large amounts of fiber. Copper poisoning causes gastrointestinal distress, kidney, liver failure and death. Excess fiber also causes diarrhea. These results were forwarded to the FDA.

The significant lab results are as follows: 

Protein 24.8%
Fat 31.5%
Fiber 17.6%
Heavy metal copper 2x Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)

Petag's label states a "guaranteed analysis" as follows: 

Crude Protein min 33.0%
Crude Fat min 40.0%
Crude Fiber max 0.0% 

The actual protein and fat in Esbilac is less than the minimum guaranteed by the Petag label. The fiber is far greater than the maximum guaranteed. The lab has stated that even though the product contains 17.6% fiber, there is no fiber source listed in any of the ingredients on the label.

The FDA regulates pet foods and treats. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that pet foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.

Animal Advocates 
Animal Advocates rehabilitates ill, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back to the wild. They are licensed by the California Department of Fish & Game and are located in Los Angeles, California.

As per their website Petag produces the number one selling puppy milk Esbilac and the number one selling kitten milk KMR. Their manufacturing plant has been located in Hampshire, Illinois for over 50 years.


Anonymous said...

Four more independent labs in four states confirm the existence of heavy metal and lack of proper nutrition.

Problem with Zoologic as reported by bat rehabbers

Updated as of July 2009. NOTE: In 2007, bat rehabilitators across the US reported health issues with hand-reared orphans including chronic dehydration, kidney failure, vomiting, hardening of the skin on the back, pneumonia, diarrhea, anemia, metabolic bone disease, and bones fracturing under the weight of the animals own body. The common denominator seemed to be the commercial milk replacer Zoologic 33/40, widely used by wildlife rehabilitators for many species of mammals. Bat World Sanctuary commissioned independent laboratory analysis of milk replacement formulas used for raising insectivorous bat pups from Expertox (TX), the Environmental Testing Laboratories (NY), Animal Nutrition and Heath (AZ) and the Analytical Sciences Laboratory (ID). Results from these laboratories included the presence of heavy metal toxins and inaccuracies in nutrient levels (copies available on request). These surprising results, coupled with widely publicized contamination of domestic animal feeds, have raised serious questions about the safety of manufactured animal food in general. Bat World Sanctuary sought a safe alternative to commercial formulas and will be using the recipe below, developed at our request by nutritional scientist. Please share this information and the recipe below with other bat and mammal rehabilitators.

Problem with KMR as reported by kitten rescuers

Reported 9/11/20009. "This is from a Rescue and Volunteer Coordinator from DuPage County Animal Care and Control: “We just found out (the hard way) that a good amount of KMR has apparently been exposed to too hot of temperatures and has gone bad. The formula does not expire until 2011 but is not safe to feed to kittens. The company is not planning on a recall as far as I know and the only way to tell which formula has gone bad is by smelling it. It has a very distinctive “chemically” smell. The company will replace any bad cans with a new one if you encounter this. Please let any other organizations, foster homes, etc… that may be bottle feeding kittens know about this. We have had four kittens die from the formula and don’t want to see the number increase!”

Anonymous said...

§Copper Values
by Dr. Lawrence
Tuesday Sep 29th, 2009 8:26 PM
Maximum copper for infant formula is 10 ppm. You are using a copper value for dry adult food. Copper in infant liquid is very different than copper in dry adult food. Formula is the only source of food and water for infants. Your formula tested at 13 at your own lab. That is over 10 ppm. Some dog breeds may be able to handle more copper than others. I believe these wildlife babies are smaller than your average dog. I've noticed the ones that died were very young squirrels and opossums. Raccoons which are larger merely got very sick. You need to reformulate.

§NRC Copper Recomendation
by Don Earl
( don [at] ) Wednesday Sep 30th, 2009 7:57 AM
The National Research Council (NRC) recommends 1.5 mg copper per day for a 33 pound dog. Per Petag's recs for puppy milk, you would feed 8 tablespoons per pound of puppy weight, or .12 liters for a one pound puppy. At 12.52 ppm per Petag's test results, that comes to a 1.5 mg dose per day, or 33 times the NRC standard on a body weight basis. Some dog breeds are especially sensitive to copper, so you should NEVER over supplement copper in dog food.

Petag appears to be attempting to defend the indefensible. There is WAY too much copper in the product.

As far as comments about AAFCO recs are concerned, AAFCO is nothing more, and nothing less, than a lobbyist organization for feed manufacturers. AAFCO does no original research. It is completely possible to formulate animal feed that will be lethal within days or weeks, and still have food that is in total compliance with AAFCO standards (or lack of standards). In fact, AAFCO lobbied for legislation to allow nonprotein nitrogen in pet food. Those who remember the 2007 pet food recall should be familiar with the effects of nonprotein nitrogen on cats and dogs.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the FDA to respond, but it wouldn't hurt to make some calls to law firms able to handle class actions.

Anonymous said...

Petag responds with their own lab results which show too much copper. Their label states Esbilac is for newborns to six weeks of age, puppies, not dogs.

PetAg's Response to Esbilac Puppy Milk Replacer
by Jean I. Heidker, PhD
( domsrvc [at] ) Monday Sep 28th, 2009 11:45 AM
Esbilac® is a puppy milk replacer formulated to meet the nutritional needs of growing dogs. It may also be used as a supplement for adult dogs in certain nutritional situations. These directions are clearly stated in the feeding directions provided with the product.
The product when used as directed will supply the nutritional needs for puppies. These nutritional needs include not only protein, fat and fiber, but also both macro and trace minerals that are needed for proper growth and development. Guidelines for these values are provided by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) for growing dogs with other values being taken from actual analysis of mother’s milk of dogs.

Certain micro minerals such as copper are a vital part of an animal’s health. This includes maintaining a healthy heart and liver, developing bone strength, brain development, supplying energy to the cells and maintaining a healthy immune system. Levels of copper supplied in the formula are for optimum utilization by growing dogs. It must be remembered that other sources of copper may be found in water which should not cause a problem unless the copper in the water is excessive.

Esbilac, milk replacer for puppies, is a milk product and thus does not contain fiber. Primary ingredients are non fat dried milk, casein and whey products. These are all milk products which are fiber free. Other ingredients are fats, vitamins and minerals which have been combined in a manner to meet the nutritional demands of growing dogs. It is important when performing laboratory analysis on a milk based product to use the appropriate methods for determining protein, fat and fiber. If the methods used are not appropriate for milk products the results obtained may be erroneous.

Feeding an orphan animal is always a challenge since most orphans arrive in a compromised state. Making sure that such animals are properly rehydrated before feeding a milk replacer is imperative. Making sure that the animal is disease and parasite free and has no congenital defects that may be life threatening is also of great importance to success. Making sure that the animal has adequate gut flora for the digestion and absorption of any product given to it is also essential since most infants are born with no flora in their GI tract.

Esbilac is made using products that are suitable for human consumption in a food grade facility and is in the approval process for EU export which assures that all products manufactured have passed the test for human consumption. PetAg, Inc. has strict guidelines for the testing of its products which includes not only nutritional guarantees, but also microbiological tests to provide assurance that the product is pathogen free and meets the standards for human consumption from the microbiological aspect.

Esbilac Results (from the 6 most recent tests, all conducted by independent registered national labs)
Copper---12.52 ppm maximum allowable limits on dry feed 250 ppm

Anonymous said...

How do you not know that your lab results are not fabricated anonymous posters? Esbilac has been working for years, how do you know that users are using incorrect dosages? Or as previously stated the formula was used for the wrong animal. And what about other formulas, why is everyone just focusing on this one?

You know vitamins are good really good for you in proper dosages but if you overdose on them because you are not properly measuring things out then you can kill yourself or your children. And if you do so is it the company's fault?

People are just trying to find away to distract themselves from the fact that they are unemployed and their children dont respect them. They need a big evil company to go against and blame all their problems on. That's how people function.

I mean why are complaints only popping up this past year? It's sad because if this product doesn't harm animals if everyone thinks it does then the company will go under and a lot of innocent people will lose their jobs.

Either way, whoever started these horrendous rumors are only going to get sued for libel.

Elizabeth Hartman said...

As a wildlife rehabilitator, I am absolutely appalled at the lies about KMR and Esbiliac that you have been propagating around the internet. I contacted the FDA personally and was informed that there was/is NO FDA investigation of PetAg's formulas and there is NO report stating that the formulas are bad! While... I do not disagree that there was some tainted KMR formula shipped out last year due to a truck's refrigeration problems, it is apparent that PetAg is NOT at fault! Esbiliac changed their formula configuration last year and it's upset you and a handful of other rehabilitators, who have decided to target PetAg and spread ridiculous rumors and lies about them across the internet. I'm disgusted by your lack of integrity, and absolutely ashamed of everyone who believes you without doing a bit of their own research themselves.