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FDA Warns Pet Parents About the Toxicity of Vitamin D Following Multiple Recalls of Dog Food for Excess Vitamin D

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning pet parents about vitamin D toxicity in dogs following the recent recalls of multiple brands of dog food for excess vitamin D. They caution that extremely high levels of vitamin D can cause serious health problems in pets, which can lead to kidney failure and even death.

HILL’S SCIENCE DIET, PRESCRIPTION DIET DOG FOODS

The FDA warning comes after Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s announcement of a worldwide recall of twenty-five different brands of its Hill’s Science Diet and Prescription canned dog foods. It’s worth noting that the recall was prompted after the FDA became aware of a report of vitamin D toxicity in a dog that ate a canned Hill’s dog food formulas.

SUNSHINE MILLS’ DOG FOODS

In recent weeks, recalls for numerous other brands of dog foods have been recalled for excess levels of vitamin D. Those brands were all made by a common contract manufacturer, Sunshine Mills, and marketed worldwide under multiple different brand names. Those brands included ANF, Abound, ELM, Evolve, Old Glory, Orlando, Natural Life, Nature’s Promise, Nature’s Place, Nutrisca, Sportsman’s Pride, and Triumph brand dry dog foods. It’s important to realize that these recalls were also prompted after the FDA learned about reports of vitamin D toxicity in dogs fed one of these recalled brands. 

FDA WARNING

Today the agency is cautioning pet parents about the dangers of excessive amounts of vitamin D in a dogs diet, and what you should do if you have a dog you suspect is ill from vitamin D toxicosis. Vitamin D toxicosis is a potentially life-threatening condition which should be treated immediately. A summary of today’s announcement with additional notes from me follows.

SIGNS

The early signs of vitamin D poisoning may be vague and could easily be missed. At first, your dog may drool, start vomiting, or have diarrhea and may start to drink more than normal and pee more than usual. More serious signs include muscle spasms and fits/convulsions and weight loss. Eventually, your dog may exhibit signs of kidney failure, pain, or have bloody vomiting, bloody diarrhea and changes in the heart rhythm.  If your dog exhibits any of these signs, contact a veterinarian immediately.

DIAGNOSIS

Only a veterinarian can diagnose vitamin D toxicity. They might take a blood sample to measure levels of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D or obtain urine to assess kidney function. Vitamin D toxicosis is characterized by hyperphosphatemia and hypercalcemia, hypokalemia, and azotemia. These diseases can lead to renal failure, cardiac abnormalities, hypertension, CNS depression, and possibly even death. Treatment will depend on your veterinarian’s assessment of each case. Without aggressive therapy, your dog may be predisposed to chronic kidney disease for the rest of their life.

WHAT TO DO

Take a picture of the pet food label, including the lot number. It’s also helpful if you save the food in its original package, in case it’s needed for testing. If your veterinarian suspects the food is the source of excess vitamin D, having the lot code helps the FDA identify exactly when the contamination occurred and what other products might also be affected.

REPORT IT

You should report suspected illness to the FDA electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. It’s most helpful if you work with your veterinarian to submit your dog’s medical records as part of the report. The FDA welcomes case reports, especially those confirmed through diagnostics. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint. Taking this important step can help prevent other dogs from getting sick.

BOTTOM LINE

It is apparent that without these adverse event reports made to the FDA from veterinarians and consumers like you, these recalls would not have occurred. I cannot stress enough the importance of this process, so if you suspect a foodborne illness: Report it.

GOING FORWARD

As we move through these recalls, the FDA is continuing to investigate how these incidents occurred and if any other foods should be recalled. The FDA assures us they will issue public updates as soon as additional recall information becomes available. At this point, it is uncertain how many other pet food manufacturers received and used the faulty vitamin pre-mix, and we don’t know if the same faulty pre-mix was used by both Hill’s and Sunshine Mills. But clearly, it is a failure on the part of these manufacturers to assure the safety of the ingredients before they are used in their pet foods.

RELATED INFORMATION FROM THE FDA

Vitamin D Toxicity in Dogs

FDA Alerts Pet Owners about Potentially Toxic Levels of Vitamin D in Several Dry Pet Foods

Hill’s Pet Nutrition Recalls Canned Dog Food for Excessive Vitamin D

Kroger Louisville Division Recalls Abound Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food Because of Elevated Vitamin D Levels

King Soopers and City Market Recalls Abound Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food Because of Elevated Vitamin D Levels

Sunshine Mills, Inc. Issues Recall of Dry Dog Food Due to Elevated Levels of Vitamin D

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON VITAMIN D TOXICOSIS

Cholecalciferol, Merck Veterinary Manual

Vitamin Tolerances of Animals; Vitamin D, National Academies Press

Vitamin D, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

RELATED POSTS ON POISONED PETS

Vitamin D Toxicosis Leads To Hill’s Dog Food Recall, Supplier Error Blamed

Contract dog food maker named in devastating vitamin D poisoning, multiple brands involved

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (6) Write a comment

  1. Pingback: Hill's Sneaks Another Lot of Dog Food to the Massive List of Recalled Dog Food Due to Toxic Levels of Vitamin D | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  2. Pingback: How Hill's Lies and Corruption Hid a Catastrophic Failure That Led to the Illness and Death of Dogs Worldwide | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  3. Pingback: Hill's expands recall after finding toxic levels of vitamin D in more dog foods; FDA request leads to expanded recall. | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  4. Pingback: How a Vitamin and a Mistake Led to the Downfall of Hill's | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  5. I wish that these horrific incidents would help the public to understand the concept of contract manufacturing, which you helpfully describe. This is the first instance I’ve seen where Sunshine Mills is mentioned, for which consumers should be grateful.

    Also important to me is that Hill’s is sidestepping the issue of bulk vitamin sourcing, in that they won’t acknowledge that, essentially, there are no US manufacturers of bulk vitamins for animal fee/food. To continue to insist that this is the mistake of a “US” supplier seems disingenuous.

    Reply

    • Thanks, Peter. It means a lot coming from you. Your website is a treasure trove of fantastic information. I would encourage anyone reading this to visit your website because it provides the best information on the net about the reality of the state of pet food. Fantastic work. People: check it out: fairfieldbeachaccess.org/whats-really-in-dog-food.

      Reply

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