(NBC News) - PetSmart is joining rival pet retail giant Petco in removing all Chinese jerky treats from its shelves after the FDA announced more than 1,000 dog deaths may be linked to the products.
"By March 2015, PetSmart will no longer sell dog and cat treats manufactured in China. This is something we've been working toward for some time, and feel it's the right thing to do for pets and our customers," said a PetSmart spokesperson in an emailed statement.
The Phoenix-based pet retailer will stop carrying the treats in its 1,300 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
The decision comes a day after Petco, which has a similar number of Petco and Unleashed outlets, announced that it would remove all Chinese jerky products from its shelves by the end of 2014.
It also comes less than a week after the FDA announced that jerky treats, mostly imported from China, have been linked with more than 1,000 dog deaths and nearly 5,000 illnesses in dogs, cats and, for the first time, even people.
For seven years, the FDA has been investigating possible links between Chinese jerky pet treats and maladies in dogs that include gastrointestinal illness, kidney failure and a disease called Fanconi syndrome. It has warned consumers about a possible risk associated with the products, but has never pinpointed a specific ingredient in the treats that would cause illnesses, or released a recall of the products.
"The [FDA] continues to caution pet owners that jerky treats are not required for a balanced diet and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians, both prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets," the agency said in a press release on Friday, May 16. The FDA said it will continue to investigate.