San Diego-based Petco said Tuesday that it will stop selling dog and cat treats made in China by the end of this year due to ongoing fears that the imported treats are making pets sick.
Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration haven't been able to figure out why pets are getting ill from the treats since the agency began receiving reports of illnesses in 2007.
In an update last week, the FDA said it has received more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses and more than 1,000 reports of dog deaths after eating Chinese-made chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats.
The FDA said tests found antiviral drug amantadine in some samples of imported chicken jerky treats sold a year or more ago, but doesn't think it caused the illnesses. The FDA said it will continue to investigate.
Petco said that shoppers have asked it to stop selling treats from China. The pet food retailer said it is switching them out for treats that are made in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and South America.
It already began cutting down on the amount of Chinese-made treats three years ago, said Petco Vice President John Sturm. It expects to completely get rid of them in all its 1,300 stores by the end of this year.
The company doesn't sell any pet food made in China.
Rival PetSmart Inc., which is based in Phoenix and also runs about 1,300 stores, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.