Frequently Asked Questions
The Pet Food Adverse Event System of Tracking (PetFAST) is a veterinary reporting system to track suspected adverse events related to pet food, pet meat and treats, and to identify possible patterns indicating a problem.
Veterinarians can report details of suspected adverse events associated with pet food, pet meat or treats for dogs and cats, while AVA and PFIAA monitor other submissions that may indicate a large scale or significant problem. If that happens, a joint committee of AVA and PFIAA will meet to discuss what action should be taken.
We want to hear from vets treating cases where they have ruled out other possible causes and consider that diet is likely to be causing the clinical signs they are treating. The system is especially designed to monitor unusual, serious or unexpected health problems that you suspect have a significant connection with pet food, treats or pet meat.
It's important to report cases of thiamine deficiency from sulphite preservatives in pet food as there is little current data on the prevalence of this problem and PetFAST could help with this information gap.
It's not necessary to report normal gastric signs due to changes in diet that resolve on altering the pet's food. Allergies and food sensitivities can also be excluded from reporting.
We need lots of clinical information to help us identify whether particular cases might be connected, and this needs to be provided by a veterinarian. If you suspect that food or a treat has caused a health problem for your pet, you should visit a vet straight away. You can ask the vet to lodge a report on PetFAST if you both agree that pet food or treats may be implicated.
You can also telephone the product manufacturer to discuss what has happened.
No one will be drawing a conclusion about the individual case you report. It is extremely difficult to definitively establish the cause of a single adverse event. PetFAST is a system to monitor possible trends rather than deal with individual cases. If your case appears to be part of a trend, a veterinarian may be in contact to verify your report or gather additional information. Otherwise, you won’t receive any further communication.
Employees from AVA and PFIAA monitor reports as they are received and notify a joint technical committee if there are at least three similar cases reported that reflect a probable or possible link with food or treats or another cause. A meeting will be called to discuss what steps need to be taken. Actions may include alerting veterinarians to look for and report similar cases, communication with the manufacturer for discussion of the events, or further investigation by a committee member of possible causes.
PetFAST has a comprehensive checklist of steps you should take and information you need to gather to report your case to the tracking system.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to prove a causal connection between food and adverse clinical signs. We need at least a minimum set of information to be able to determine whether there are similarities between particular cases.
If you don’t have all the information, you are encouraged to still lodge a report, but connections may be missed between your case and others reported.
Yes, you should definitely report such cases. By lodging a report with PetFAST, there is the possibility of gathering more reliable data over time on the prevalence of this problem. You should still follow the checklist and you may like to contact the pet meat retailer or manufacturer if at all possible. In many cases they are unaware that the use of sulphites in their food can be harmful to pets.
If you observe a bad reaction or an adverse event, you should first take your animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible, who will examine the animal and treat any immediate threats to their health and well-being.
Australian veterinarians have access to a pet food adverse event tracking system called PetFAST.
PetFAST is a system to track health problems in dogs and cats that are suspected of being associated with pet food, treats and pet meat. It is designed to identify possible patterns that might point to a cause.
PetFAST is a voluntary joint initiative of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA).
Only veterinarians in Australia can make a report to PetFAST. They report details of adverse events that they suspect are associated with pet food, treats or pet meat for dogs and cats.
AVA and PFIAA monitor PetFAST reports for similarities that may indicate a possible problem. If a problem that might affect more pets is identified, a joint committee will meet to discuss what action should be taken.
In some countries, monitoring and acting on pet food adverse events is a government responsibility, but no structure currently exists within Australia’s system of government to investigate possible adverse events relating to pet food.
If you are a pet owner and suspect a problem with pet food or treats, you need to ask your vet to examine your pet and lodge a report if they too suspect an adverse event associated with pet food.
Reports are forwarded to the pet food manufacturer where possible, who may be in contact with the reporting veterinarians to investigate the matter further.