In Japan, veterinarian warns of rising resale prices for scarce therapeutic pet foods

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This photo shows an elderly cat with declining kidney function, but who has managed to live a long 20-year life with the help of therapeutic pet food. (Mainichi)

TOKYO – Therapeutic pet food for sick dogs and cats is scarce as more people around the world are adopting the animals amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the situation exacerbated by dealers charging stratospheric prices.

“The owners are in a minor state of panic because the therapeutic food they used to feed their pets is no longer available,” said Tomoaki Shobudani, 35, director of the Maru Pet Clinic, a veterinary hospital. of the city of Hiroshima.

According to Shobudani, food supplies available from the manufacturer have been extremely low for about a year and some products are now completely unavailable.

Therapeutic pet foods are used to treat diseases of the kidneys, heart, digestive organs, skin, and other parts of the body. It takes a long time to develop the products, including adjusting the nutritional balance according to the disease and refining the aroma and taste so that even dogs and cats with low appetites want to eat them. If there is a shortage of supply, it is difficult for other manufacturers to fill the void immediately.

There is no alternative to some of the therapeutic foods currently in short supply. Shobudani received heartbreaking comments from owners, including: “The alternative foods caused diarrhea and made my pet lose weight. I felt really sorry for them and it was painful (to see him ). ”



This provided photo shows Tomoaki Shobudani, director of the Maru Pet Clinic. (Photo courtesy of the Maru Pet Clinic)

Why is there a shortage of therapeutic foods? The main reason is the sharp increase in global demand triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Food is mainly imported and, according to research firm Fuji Keizai Co., two companies, products from Royal Canin Japan Inc. and Hill’s-Colgate (Japan) Ltd. represent around 90% of the Japanese market.

Royal Canin told the Mainichi Shimbun that “many people, especially in Europe and the United States, have pets because they spend more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a sharp increase in demand “.

In addition to the inability of production to meet demand, the disruption of the shipping system caused by the pandemic is said to have accelerated the supply delay.

With the shortage there is now a serious problem. Resellers offer therapeutic foods at prices several times the list price on major Internet shopping sites and second-hand shops. While checking one site, this reporter found a single box of food for dogs with digestive disorders at 3,500 yen (about $ 31), about 10 times the original price.



This photo shows a dog whose kidney function deteriorated with age but who lived 18 years with the help of therapeutic pet food.

Therapeutic foods were originally produced on the assumption that manufacturers would distribute them to veterinary hospitals, as they could cause illness if owners fed them to their pets without medical examination. In recent years, however, food has become available in big box stores such as home improvement stores, pet stores, and major online shopping sites.

It is believed that some resellers buy the little leftover inventory in big box stores and other establishments and resell it, and several websites provide information on “sedori”, a method of making money by reselling products. , introduced therapeutic pet food as a “very profitable product for resale.”

Shobudani started a petition on the Change.org online campaign site on July 30 to demand that major internet shopping sites and flea market application operators regulate the high resale prices of therapeutic foods.

“Making money by turning therapeutic foods into high-priced resale products is the worst kind of business, taking advantage of the weakness of owners of sick dogs and cats. It’s a potentially deadly question, and I absolutely want this to stop, ”said Shobudani, who stressed the need to introduce regulations.

(Japanese original by Yuki Machino, Business News Department)


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