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

Today’s recall of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Science Diet and Prescription formula canned dog foods for elevated levels of vitamin D remind us why it is so important to report a pet food problem. The story begins as most pet food recalls do, with a sick dog or a cat and a consumer who believed in the process enough to make a complaint. And that lone voice, that single consumer with a sick dog managed to trigger a worldwide recall possibly saving the lives of thousands of other dogs.

But today’s recall may never have happened.

Increasingly, consumers are led to believe the FDA is a corrupt institution run by nothing but a bunch of crooks and liars and are in collusion with Big Pet Food. But today’s recall reminds us that sometimes the system works and that an individual consumer has the power to affect change. And the FDA will take action when appropriate – irrespective of the size of the pet food company or the type of pet food they make.

THE PROBLEM WITH VITAMIN D

What we are learning today is that Hill’s Pet Nutrition is recalling twenty-six canned dog food formulas due to excessive levels of vitamin D. Although the recall makes no mention of the amount of the level of the vitamin D. we can assume that judging from the report of the sick dog, it is an amount high enough to cause illness.

According to the recall notice, “Ingestion of elevated levels of vitamin D can lead to serious health issues depending on the level of vitamin D and the length of exposure. Dogs may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss. Vitamin D, when consumed at very high levels, can lead to serious health issues in dogs including renal dysfunction.” And death. They neglected to mention that.

It is important to realize that due to a consumer complaint about a single dog diagnosed with vitamin D toxicosis, Hill’s was able to determine that some of their formulas contained elevated levels of vitamin D in some of their canned dog foods.

SUPPLIER ERROR

Unfortunately, Hill’s will only say the problem occurred due to a “supplier error.”

It is always disappointing when a manufacturer refuses to take responsibility for their failure to test their ingredients prior to manufacture.

This vitamin D recall echoes other recent excessive vitamin D recalls, both that were blamed on “supplier error.” In the previous recalls, it is presumed that all of the pet foods were made by a third-party private label manufacturer called Sunshine Mills. In this case, it is highly doubtful that Hill’s is made by Sunshine Mills. However, it may be that the incorrectly formulated vitamin premix could have been supplied to both companies. At this point, it is only conjecture and not fact.

THE RECALLED FORMULAS

Product Name SKU Number Lot Code/Date Code
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® c/d® Multicare Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5oz 3384 102020T10
102020T25
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5oz 3389 102020T04
102020T10
102020T19
102020T20
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 5.5oz 3390 102020T11
112020T23
122020T07
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® z/d® Canine 5.5oz 5403 102020T17
112020T22
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® g/d® Canine 13oz 7006 112020T19
112020T20
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Canine 13oz 7008 092020T30
102020T07
102020T11
112020T22
112020T23
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® j/d® Canine 13oz 7009 112020T20
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® k/d® Canine 13oz 7010 102020T10
102020T11
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® w/d® Canine 13oz 7017 092020T30
102020T11
102020T12
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® z/d® Canine 13oz 7018 102020T04
112020T22
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® Metabolic + Mobility Canine Vegetable & Tuna Stew 12.5oz 10086 102020T05
102020T26
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® w/d® Canine Vegetable & Chicken Stew 12.5oz 10129 102020T04
102020T21
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Low Fat Canine Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew 12.5oz 10423 102020T17
102020T19
112020T04
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® Derm Defense® Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5oz 10509 102020T05
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Small & Toy Breed Chicken & Barley Entrée Dog Food 5.8oz 4969 102020T18
Hill’s® Science Diet® Puppy Chicken & Barley Entrée 13oz 7036 102020T12
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult Chicken & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13oz 7037 102020T13
102020T14
112020T23
112020T24
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult Turkey & Barley Dog Food 13oz 7038 102020T06
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult Chicken & Beef Entrée Dog Food 13oz 7040 102020T13
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult Light with Liver Dog Food 13oz 7048 112020T19
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Chicken & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13oz 7055 092020T31
102020T13
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Beef & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13oz 7056 092020T31
112020T20
112020T24
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Turkey & Barley Entrée 13oz 7057 112020T19
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Healthy Cuisine Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew dog food 12.5oz 10452 102020T14
102020T21
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Youthful Vitality Chicken & Vegetable Stew dog food 12.5oz 10763 102020T04
102020T05
112020T11

VITAMIN D TOXICITY

While vitamin D is perfectly safe in small doses, vitamin D also has the smallest margin of safety of all vitamins and is the most likely to cause life-threatening health issues.

More worrisome, is that because the signs of vitamin D poisoning do not occur immediately and may take hours to manifest – as the vitamin D causes a slow rise in the dog’s blood calcium levels – the early signs of vitamin D poisoning may be vague and could easily be missed.

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D TOXICITY

Initially, dogs can develop vomiting, diarrhea and may start to drink more than usual. As the calcium concentration rises in the blood, there are more severe signs including muscle spasms and fits/convulsions. The calcium is deposited in tissues resulting in kidney failure, pain, bloody vomiting, bloody diarrhea and changes in the heart rhythm.

If untreated, pets will die several days after vitamin D overdose.

VITAMIN D TOXICOSIS

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “animals with vitamin D3 intoxication become anorectic, lose weight, and develop acetonemia within 2–3 week after the overdose. Tachycardia, shallow breathing, and lameness, followed by weakness, recumbency, and even death can be seen in animals with vitamin D3 toxicosis.”

“Vitamin D toxicosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that causes increased reabsorption of calcium leading to renal damage. Clinical signs include abdominal pain, renal pain on palpation, depression, bradycardia (increased heart rate), vomiting and diarrhea. Once blood work is performed, findings include hypercalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, hypokalemia, and azotemia.”

TODAY’S LESSON ON THE POWER OF CONSUMERS

As we see today, a single consumer adverse event report can save hundreds, perhaps even thousands of other dogs from needless suffering and possibly even death. These reports can have the ability to help other consumers from experiencing the agony and despair of watching helplessly as their animal suffers or enduring the anguish of having to bury a beloved pet.

Without these critical reports, particularly ones that can be validated with a veterinary diagnosis, recalls like the one we have today is unlikely to happen.

ADVERSE EVENT REPORTING

If you believe your pet has become ill from consuming a pet food, please provide the FDA with valuable information by reporting it electronically through their Safety Reporting Portal or call your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.

If you and your veterinarian think a pet food or treat is the source of a problem – save it – because your state agricultural or veterinary diagnostic lab may want to do testing. If you need more help, find out how to report a pet food complaint to the FDA.

HILL’S CONTACT INFORMATION

For further information, please contact Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. at 1-800-445-5777 Monday-Friday during the hours of 9am-5pm (CST) or at contactus@hillspet.com.  Information can also be found at www.hillspet.com/productlist .

To find out more about the recall, please visit the FDA website’s page on the Hill’s recall.

TO ALL MY READERS

Since you are here, I have a small favor to ask.

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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 (36) Write a comment

  1. 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

  2. Hi Mollie I just wanted you to know that when I said I would donate money as soon as my check comes in I meant my SSI. I don’t want any money from Hill’s besides that they couldn’t pay me enough to cover her lost to me, I just want justice and them to take the responsibility in what they did to our beloved pets. And to make sure it never happens again.

    Reply

    • Thank you, Rusty, that’s very sweet of you.

      But you really should hang on to your money, because I know from personal experience how hard life is when you’re just barely scraping by.

      Bless you, for caring! :)

      Reply

  3. Hi Mollie I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, the information you gave me to contact that law firm has gotten in touch with me and is going to help me with my case against Hill’s. If it had not been for you this would not have happened. And as soon as my check comes in I will be sending in a Donation to this cause. Again thank you so, so much I will keep in touch with you to let you know how things are going if you would like me to.

    Reply

  4. 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

  5. This is my story, My beloved Peaches was on the k/d diet since August of 2018 everything was going great until late January 2019 when I noticed that she started losing weight and drooling from the mouth and not eating as much as she was eating, also she would just stare, and she even would loss her balance. I was going to take her to the vet on February 3, 2019 but before that happened they called me and wanted me to get my food to see if any of it was on the list of recalls and if was. Out of 12 cans I had one full can and one half can left. They said to bring it in and they would swap it out. I ask them if Hill’s would pay for the test to be done and my Vet told me no, that if I wanted it to be done I would have to pay for it, and I was also told that my dog should be fine wants I got her off that food. Well things did not get better she would have good days and she would have bad days, but she was still losing weight and not wanting to eat much. Before I forget I was feeding my baby girl with a syringe every three to four hours every day since August 2018 because she wouldn’t eat it, but she would take it from the syringe with no problems I would even do this with her water if I felt she wasn’t drinking enough. Then March 1, 2019 I took her into the vets. because she would not stop trembling and still not eating well so they did a blood test her kidney count went from 83 to 51 but her iron was only 22 which was really bad, so they put her on lixotinic liq. vitamin 1 ml every 24 hours until gone. Well she still didn’t get any better on March 15, 2019 I noticed a string of clot blood skin looking. But she was alert and going to the bathroom and everything looked fine I didn’t see any blood in her urine. The next day March 16, 2019 I woke to find to small blood clots the size of a pea in two different places on the bed. Again she got up and went to pottie and again still no blood in her urine. She got back on the bed and was licking a lot so I got the syringe and gave her 2 cc of water she didn’t want any at all. Next thing I see is her throwing it up and there was another blood clot the size of a pea, I knew something was very wrong so I called my vet and they had transferred all there calls to another vet. I told them that I wanted my vet because he knew Peaches and what might be going on with her, I was told that If I wanted to see him that I would have to wait until Monday, this is Saturday morning, I knew my baby girl couldn’t wait that long. So in the mean time she went over to were I sleep and laid down. I went to check on her about 30 minutes later and she could barley move except to lift her head up at me. I then called the vet that was taking calls for my vet that I was on my way. When I got there with her he looked her over and told me she was dying so I had to put her asleep because I didn’t want her to suffer any more or be in any pain even though she wasn’t showing signs of being in pain. I will never know if the dog food killed my baby or not because of my vet but I feel it did. Thank you for reading my story and I hope other read it to so that it might save there dogs life.

    Reply

    • I am so sorry for your loss, i lost my Gretchen to the recall too, vet had no idea of what was going on.
      the recall is still growing, the Consumer affairs just listed with more of the Hill science diet foods -https://consumeraffairs.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=48290de6249ef2cecba9fe5de&id=df662e2fda&e=71e4a5b72b

      Reply

      • It is very sad that we who loved and had there baby’s for so long (mine was 14 years) that we can’t do anything about what has happened to our pets. Not only do I blame Hill’s but I blame my vet as well for not taking it more serious then he did. But all these sell this product and make money as well, so you figure it out the math there, they stop selling hill’s they lose money.

        Reply

        • This has been a major wake-up call for vets. And believe me when I say they are pissed. Read https://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=53037. In it, one vet says, “Something is seriously wrong at Hill’s if they think staying silent and looking away is a good strategy.” “Transparency, that’s what can help,” the vet suggested. “All this has been extraordinarily frustrating; that’s why I sent in the can. If Hill’s wasn’t going to tell me how much vitamin D was in the food, I was going to get a number myself.

          “This is what happens when you get a little angry,” she added.

          Reply

          • Hi Mollie thank you for that information my next question to you is there anything I can do against Hill’s I don’t have the money to get a lawyer and I don’t have any of the cans of dog food because my vet got them ( 1 1/2 cans left out of 12) back because they were on the list. I don’t know how much a 5 pound dog has to consume and still not sure that the other case in a half were also bad that she may have been eating in February and March, she died March 16, 2019 that would have killed her, but my heart said the food did, she was doing to good for things to go wrong so fast. Or do I just let it go, there not a night that goes by that I don’t cry myself a sleep wondering if my little girl thinks I was killing her by giving her that food. People keep telling me to let it go and I can’t. Everything around the house reminds me of her even going to the stores because she would go with me. I know my heart and the pain that I’m feeling will one day ease but never go away, she was my baby girl of 14 years. Thank you for hearing me out, I don’t think my family wants to hear it anymore.

          • I am so incredibly sorry to hear about the loss of your baby girl.

            Please don’t blame yourself, it was Hill’s fault, not yours.

            I would urge you to contact the attorneys handling the Bone v. Hills case and you should join their class action lawsuit. The complaint is listed here http://www.poisonedpets.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/BonevHills.pdf. The attorneys are Cafferty, Clobes, Meriwether & Sprengel LLP out of Chicago: https://www.caffertyclobes.com/contact-us/.

            Hugs.

  6. My cat was always getting sick on hills food & the bag has just sit here for over 6 months untouched because the cat was always throwing up eating dry food of hills. Didn’t know what to do with bag.

    Reply

  7. ask your vet for A complete physical examination will then be conducted, including routine laboratory tests such as a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolytes, and urinalysis.

    If your dog is suffering from vitamin D toxicity, the biochemistry profile will indicate abnormally high levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. It may also indicate abnormally low levels of potassium in the blood along with an accumulation of nitrogenous waste products. In some dogs, the biochemistry profile may even indicate an abnormally high level of liver enzymes and low levels of protein (called albumin) in the blood. The urinalysis, meanwhile, will indicate abnormally high levels of proteins and glucose in the urine.

    Reply

  8. How many cans after feeding 20lb dog? He was on hills for a month or two. Then I saw the recall. Stopped. He seems ok but he had vomited this week which I thought was from eaten grass. He also threw up one morning bile with a red ring around outside maybe blood,? He eats ok now. Wondering if I should take him to vet.

    Reply

  9. I had two elderly cats (18 & 19) who have been on Hills A/D for two months just to try to keep their weight up, and they’re getting sicker and sicker and sicker, so I stopped the A/D three days ago and switched them to homemade chicken breast and vitamins. A/D is for both dogs and cats, but I don’t see it on your list. They’re showing all the symptoms described above except death. Can you keep us updated when they add A/D to the list?

    Reply

  10. Pingback: FDA Warns Pet Parents About the Toxicity of Vitamin D Following Multiple Recalls of Dog Food for Excess Vitamin D | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  11. My Cairn Terrier, “Sundance” had been on Science Diet his whole life having been recommended by our vet.
    He developed diabetes, suffered overnight from cataracts (had surgery to repair sight) eventually had to be put down due to renal failure! After finding out about this recall I am heartsick to think this all could have been prevented by tighter controls on these sleazy manufacturers!,

    Reply

  12. Pingback: Pet Parents Sue After Hill's Offers $5 Per Dog For Compensation: Dead or Alive. Class Action Lawsuits Filed. | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  13. My dog died from the same symptoms 2 years ago but she was on the dry formula. I don’t believe it’s just linked to the canned formula. I still have the dog food. Is there any way it can be tested?

    Reply

  14. My poor dog has been in death’s door since 12/12/18 after trying Hill’s. We spent many thousands of dollars trying to find out what was ailing him. I truely believe he is a victim of vitimin D toxicity. I’m wondering what can be done about this.

    Reply

  15. Just saying how much I enjoy these posts..
    Archie say hi..

    Happy new year ♥️
    Stay healthy

    Stuey

    Reply

    • Hi Stuey! I always enjoy getting gifts from your fabulous store: The Gray Goose in Nevada City. I love my “Cat mom forever” tote (or was it “Crazy Cat Lady Forever”?) and all the other cute cat stuff Dan has given me over the years from your amazing shop. Glad you like my work! Hugs!

      Reply

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