[NEWS] Dogs Dying Because Of Toxic Levels Of Vitamin D In Food

Dog next to a newspaper, next to dog food high in vitamin D

Reports keep coming in about dogs dying due to toxic levels of vitamin D in dog food.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted pet owners about potentially toxic levels of vitamin D in some dry pet foods on Dec. 3, 2018.

And the list of brands recalling their foods just keeps on growing.

So what’s the deal with vitamin D in dogs and why are pet foods facing a recall?

Vitamin D In Dogs

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs.

Dogs need vitamin D to regulate calcium and phosphorus absorption.  It’s also crucial for the health of your dog’s bones and heart.

However, too much of a good thing is really bad.

And that’s why these foods are all being taken from shelves.

The Recalls So Far

Testing found that samples of the dog food contained excessive, potentially toxic amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs, but very high amounts can cause serious health problems like kidney failure or death. ~ FDA

There have been several updates to the list of brands. It currently includes:

  • Sunshine Mills, Inc. (Old Glory, Evolve, Sportsman’s Pride, Triumph)
  • Ahold Delhaize (Nature’s Promise, Nature’s Place)
  • Kroger (Abound)
  • King Soopers (Abound)
  • ELM Pet Foods, Inc., ANF, Inc., Lidl (Orlando)
  • Natural Life Pet Products and Nutrisca

*NOTE: We will continue to update this list as we hear of more recalls.

These foods were available nationwide.

“After receiving complaints from pet owners about dogs with vitamin D toxicity, one of the firms reported to the FDA that it was recalling dry pet food due to potentially toxic levels of vitamin D. Many other brands with a common contract manufacturer have also been recalled. … FDA scientists have evaluated samples of some of these products, and state and private lab test results indicate that the food contained as much as approximately 70 times the intended amount of vitamin D.”

But It Gets Worse …

Sadly, that’s not the end of it.

More recently, Hill’s Pet Nutrition voluntarily recalled some canned dog food products because of potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. The recall includes several Prescription Diet and Science Diet canned dog foods distributed through retail pet stores and veterinary clinics nationwide.

Since the recall, countless grieving pet owners have taken to social media to say the recall is “too little, too late.”

Testimonial of a pet owner regarding vitamin d for dogs

As The Washington Post notes, “the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Facebook and Twitter pages last week were overwhelmed with replies from distressed pet owners, many of whom claimed their dogs had gotten extremely sick or died after consuming the food.”

Social media post of a dog owner regarding vitamin d for dogs
Social media post of a dog owner regarding vitamin d for dogs
Social media post of a dog owner regarding vitamin d for dogs

And earlier this week, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. got hit with a lawsuit because of this exact issue.

**Since this post was published, two more lawsuits have been filed against Hill’s Pet Nutrition. According to Food Safety News, they “allege negligence, breach of express and implied warranty, strict product liability, failure to warn, unjust enrichment, and unfair and deceptive trade practices on the part of the company.” One also “accused Hill’s of “excessive and unwarranted delay” in notifying consumers and regulatory agencies of the Vitamin D toxicity issue.”

According to PR Newswire, “Although Hill’s advertises that its dog food contains precisely balanced nutrition and is subject to stringent quality control standards, on January 31, 2019, the company recalled certain of its canned dog food, which contained excessive and dangerous amounts of Vitamin D.” 

The FDA says pet owners should stop feeding the products to pets immediately. Take a photo of the label, including lot number information, contact the pet food company and if your dog is having any symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

**The DNM team thought this was so important that they did a Facebook Live about it. Check it out:

According to the FDA, symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include:

  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • excessive drooling 
  • weight loss

More severe symptoms include kidney failure and death.

Initial clinical signs of vitamin D poisoning can occur from 8 to 48 hours after ingestion. These first signs can include depression, weakness and appetite loss. After that, you might see vomiting, increased drinking and urination, constipation and dehydration. Dark, tar-like stools and breathing difficulty, which could mean bleeding in the gut and lungs, may appear in severe and advanced cases. 

Other symptoms can include slow heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm and mineralization of the soft tissues around the body.

Keeping Your Dog Safe

The best way to protect your dog from the never-ending recalls and risks of commercial pet food is by taking control of what you feed. Here are some quick tips to get you going: 

  • Stop feeding kibble and canned foods. Feed a natural, homemade, whole food diet instead. A raw food diet is ideal, but lightly cooking your dog’s food is still a huge improvement over dry food from a bag. 
  • If you continue buying your pet’s food, look for smaller (not mass-produced) brands that sell raw food. Do your research on the brand and have a direct relationship with the owner of the brand. Ask as many questions as you can think of and make sure the owner is open to answering all of them. 
  • Look for organic ingredients and grass-fed meats, no synthetics or chemicals and no antibiotics, hormones or pesticides/herbicides used in formulating the food.
  • Don’t let raw meat scare you. For humans, raw meat is a bad idea, but our pets’ bodies are different. Feeding dogs a properly-balanced raw diet often simply means giving them more of what they need. 

As pet owners, we want to keep our pets safe. We can’t control what mass-produced brands and their suppliers are doing with the foods they sell. But we can control what we feed our pets. When we as humans eat local, organic and homemade, we are the healthier for it. The same goes for our pets. 

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