Whole Dog Journal's Blog February 21, 2019

A Second Recall of Dog Foods with Toxic Levels of Vitamin D

Posted at 10:21AM - Comments: (18)

We have mentioned recalls for foods that contain potentially dangerous levels of vitamin D a couple of times in the past few months (here and here). Recently, the recall expanded to include a company that one doesn’t ordinarily think of as being prone to serious formulation errors: Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

A little background: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the public that several dry dog foods were being recalled after dogs who ate the foods experienced vitamin D toxicity; these symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, weight loss, and hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood, which can result in kidney stones and the calcification of organs like the heart and kidneys) – and at worst, kidney failure and death. Testing found that the foods contained excessive, potentially toxic levels of vitamin D.

hill's pet nutrition recall

The dry dog foods in question were made by a contract manufacturer – a “co-packer” that makes products for several pet food companies. It became clear relatively quickly that the vitamin premix used by the co-packer in a number of foods supplied excessive amounts of vitamin D. Some test results indicated that some of the foods made with the vitamin premix contained as much as 70 times the intended amount of vitamin D! However, the FDA did not report any dog deaths, only illnesses, related to these recalls.

Rather vexing to us: Neither the companies whose products had to be recalled nor the FDA disclosed either the name of the co-packer or the name of the vitamin premix supplier.

Then, in late January, Hills Pet Nutrition announced its own vitamin D-related recall – in this case, involving some of its canned dog foods. According to Hill’s, only canned dog foods (no treats, dry dog foods, or cat foods) are involved, and there is no connection between the earlier recalls of other companies’ dry dog foods and the Hill’s recall. Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn, chief professional veterinary officer at Hill’s U.S., told VIN News Service, “Our supplier†is a well-known supplier based in the U.S. We’re really not aware if there’s any relationship†with other brands recalled in December.”

Hill’s declined to disclose the name of its vitamin supplier.

Though Hill’s has not yet acknowledged or admitted that any dogs have died as a result of vitamin D toxicity from its foods, five separate lawsuits have already been filed against Hill’s, with four of them alleging that the plaintiffs’ dogs died or were euthanized due to severe illness following the consumption of a Hill’s canned food. One of the suits alleges that Hill’s knew about the elevated levels of vitamin D in certain canned foods months prior to the recall.

My Dog Food Recall Takeaways:

  1. If you have fed any of the recalled foods to your dog (list of recalled foods to date is here), or if your dog shows any signs of vitamin D toxicity (vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, weight loss, hypercalcemia, kidney failure), stop feeding the food and take your dog to see his veterinarian right away.
  2. Any time your dog becomes ill, changing his food to a different company’s product right away seems like a prudent precaution. No pet food company is immune to production or formulation errors, especially with pet foods containing so many ingredients from so many different suppliers.
  3. †Make a point to report any sudden or unexpected serious illness to the maker of your dog’s food and to the FDA. The March issue of WDJ explains how and why to make these adverse event reports.

Comments (18)

Please google Beneful and you will see how bad it is!!!

Posted by: nyob | February 25, 2019 11:18 PM    Report this comment

This has me worried. My dogs are very lack-a-daisy and the older girl (7 yrs old) is skipping meals. They both are on Fromms Grain Free dry and canned, but we have been house-bound for the last month and a half so they are getting less exercise than usual. I want to switch to home made. What is a good source for recipes?

Posted by: peppersmum | February 24, 2019 12:45 PM    Report this comment

To the lady with Casey, I have fed the Royal Canin lo fat GI for over 4 years. I have a Casey as well with Addisons....he had two pancreatitis attacks..the first led to diagnosis of Addisons but 6 mos later while treating that..another pancreatitis attack. Vet at that time said he needed to be on low fat and the RCt in kibble and canned has been his staple. He has high blood pressure and glomerular nephritis as well and had one seizure so keep him on keppra. He takes a renal support and azodyl capsules and Vetriscience perio support sprinkled on food. He is almost 10 now. I did supplement with Earthborn Holistic tubs as toppers and limit kibble to about a cup a day...sprinkle over wet. A little over a month ago, I ordered trial of Farmers Dog...both dogs have been on it for over a month...they like it I like it...add the kibble on top. I still use the Royal Canin low fat GI canned for his bedtime meal and to give his numerous medications through the day. Feed him 3 times..he is hard to keep weight on..if he eats too much....tummy can't take it so small meals frequent. Also with Farmers Dog....my toy poodle's frito odor has gone for the first time. I have done food trials etc...special shampoos and the odor would come back..he eats grain free and no chicken. The Farmers Dog comes in beef, turkey and pork. It is expensive but so far I think is a good choice for both dogs. You can find 50% off your first order if you go to several different blogs online. They have excellent customer support.

Posted by: 2poodle | February 24, 2019 12:18 PM    Report this comment

As a result of so many recent food recalls, I've started to write down the food batch numbers of what I feed my dogs. My dog finished a batch of prescribed canned Hills W/d just before the recall was announced.

Posted by: MsB. | February 24, 2019 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Last I researched American Journey had a 5 star rating.
I'm slowly changing Nelson to it from Acana/Orijen due to availability.

My concern with Beneful is - many have been trying to get it removed from the shelves for awhile. You may want to Google it.
I I don't feed my pets anything I can purchase in a grocery store or Walmart. After Purina bought Blue Buffalo, I stopped using it too. Then BB had a recall just after.

My pets are with us for such a short time, why chance it ?

Posted by: NelsonsMom | February 24, 2019 10:46 AM    Report this comment

I began making my golden retriever's food in the 2007 pet food scare when manufacturers were continually being implicated. I didn't wait for my dog's food to be added to the list. He was 5 years old when we began and his skin issues disappeared almost immediately. As he aged, I adjusted his food in response to various health issues. He passed at three months shy of 16 years. Friends, dogs are physically much more like us than we think. If I ate food from boxes and cans my whole life, how long would I live? How long would my family live? How quickly would our health deteriorate? Thoughts to ponder...

Posted by: ArdithB | February 24, 2019 9:41 AM    Report this comment

This is not the 1st X Hills has had a recall. What i find odd is,all the VETS that carry it in their clinics.

Posted by: Lenny T | February 23, 2019 12:10 AM    Report this comment

How does American Journey stack up? My dog has suddenly taken a dislike to it. Bored?

Posted by: otters2233 | February 21, 2019 8:12 PM    Report this comment

How does American Journey stack up? My dog has suddenly taken a dislike to it. Bored?

Posted by: otters2233 | February 21, 2019 8:12 PM    Report this comment

My dog is on a ID special diet dry dog food due to chronic pancreatitis. It is Hills ID. Prior to this she was on Royal Canin Gastrointestinal from Canada and wondering if I should switch back to that? Comments? Also, can anyone give me a good recipe for a homemade food for dogs? I am a chef and willing to cook, but must be less than 8% fat due to the pancreatitis. Do you add vitamins? Posted by Casey's Mom Feb. 21sr- 6:30 PM

Posted by: Casey's Mom | February 21, 2019 6:31 PM    Report this comment

Does anyone know about Beneful dry dog food. I thought it was a pretty good dog food. Or am I mistaken?

Posted by: Southerndogz | February 21, 2019 6:12 PM    Report this comment

Iím kind of amazed that a reader of Whole Dog Journal would be feeding Beneful and Pedigree to his/her dog.

Posted by: MullysMom | February 21, 2019 4:55 PM    Report this comment

Selling tainted pet foods to pets already compromised with health issues is willful negligence! Period. This is why I homecook for our dogs. I have done this since that melamine scare.

Posted by: Three Dog Mom | February 21, 2019 2:37 PM    Report this comment

Yet another reason why I started making homemade food for all of my pets 7 years ago. The massive pet food recall in 2007 was a huge wake-up call. At the time I had some canned food that was involved but thankfully hadn't fed it yet to my dog and was able to return it for a refund. After months of switching brands and formulas due to more recalls or company buyouts, I started making my own for the health and safety of my pets. It's a bit more work and needs some research on nutrition to get started but I never looked back. We currently have a dog with allergies and homemade makes it much easier to know exactly what he is eating and what to avoid. Some of those "limited ingredient" diets sneak in other ingredients that you may be trying to avoid in the form of broth or organs. I've never been a fan of Hills Science Diet, their ingredient list is atrocious.

Posted by: SueW | February 21, 2019 2:09 PM    Report this comment

My dogs get Beneful dry kibble and Pedigree canned food. They seem to be fine with their food! They also get some human table type food tidbits! has anyone heard of problems with 'Beneful', dry kibble, and/or 'Pedigree' canned dog food?

Posted by: Wildmann | February 21, 2019 2:07 PM    Report this comment

On February 4th, Hill's sent out a multipage notice to veterinarians offering to reimburse the vets - not dog owners, but the clinic directly - up to $500 per patient for documented cases of excess vit. D.

The notice says veterinarians who are Hill's customers may be reimbursed on a case by case basis for fees and diagnostic tests related to Vitamin D Hypervitaminosis.

Posted by: noahsapothecary@mindspring.com | February 21, 2019 1:40 PM    Report this comment

I received an alert that Hill's Z/D canned was dangerous...... The Vet had put my dogs on Hill's Z/D dry....... Both dogs were having dark tarry stools, throwing up, excessively thirsty and did not like the food.. Symptoms of Vitamin D poisoning!.... I changed dog food immediately.... Science Diet many years ago had the melamine contamination........ That disaster unfolded slowly and involved many more brands....... I had switched to another brand that finally admitted to contamination....... My dog died.......Now I question Hill's Dry as well... A friend called Hills and they told them that they had no in-house testing capabilities !!!!!!!!!

Posted by: mydogsarechildren | February 21, 2019 12:24 PM    Report this comment

This is no different than severe animal abuse and murder!!! I believe that all dog food companies should then divulge by March 1st to the public who their co-packer is and if they have tested their products and "vitamin premix"...and also what is their schedule for future testing and what is the correction action they have taken to be certain their product is safe and death-free. Once again people's greed, selfishness and the government's unwillingness to protect the animals, and yet again protect the abusers, murderers and criminals, has been and continues to be permitted!

Posted by: AMSZ | February 21, 2019 12:13 PM    Report this comment

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