The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says initial tests have not connected the Chinese jerky and rawhide treats to the illnesses, but the San Diego-based company and its rival PetSmart vowed in May to ban the snacks.
Petco is the first national pet retailer to pull the treats from its 1,300 stores. Phoenix-based PetSmart Inc. said Monday that it plans to have them off shelves at its roughly 1,300 stores by March.
The FDA targeted the treats after receiving more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses, including the deaths, after pets ate chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats from China. Tests have not confirmed any connection, but the agency is still investigating.
An FDA spokeswoman on Monday pointed to a news release from May about its investigation and declined further comment.
Petco Vice President John Sturm said all treats are now made in the U.S. or places such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and South America. The company risked tens of millions of dollars by changing treat vendors, he said.
Why Buy Healthy, Non-GMO Pet Food?
Petition Against Eating of Cat Meat
A petition from the campaign to Stop anyone from using puppies and kittens as shark baits