Mars Dog Food Recalled After Police Dogs in Australia Die

A Mars brand dog food blamed in the death of almost a dozen police dogs in Australia, is now linked to the same illness in pet dogs. Just days after the news report of police dogs becoming ill, consumers stepped forward with similar reports of family dogs diagnosed with the same disease: Megaesophagus.

The common link between the ill dogs is they are all fed the same dog food: Advance Dermocare, a brand of dog food made by Mars Petcare Australia. The news prompted a nationwide recall of the dog food in hundreds of pet stores across Australia.

Problems with the dog food first emerged with the death of a Victoria police dog. Eight other police dogs are also sick, with two expected to be euthanized after the dangerous disease struck the dogs.


All of the dogs have been diagnosed with a difficult, and often fatal, disease known as megaesophagus. What happens is the dog’s esophagus becomes abnormally enlarged, and they lose their ability to swallow or absorb nutrients, causing them to waste away – essentially starving to death.

A pet parent describes the horror of watching his dog lose half his body weight within weeks, saying he was reduced to “skin and bones.”


According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, some dogs may improve over time; however, in general, “the prognosis is poor. Aspiration pneumonia is a frequent and often lethal complication.” If they survive, specialized care and dietary modification are often required for life.

Whether the dogs illnesses are a terrible coincidence or whether there is something terribly wrong with the dog food is unclear, and until more is known Mars Petcare Australia is recalling all of the Advance Dermocare dog food from the market.


Mars claims to have conducted “hundreds of tests” on the dog food, but they say they have not found a link between their dog food and the deadly illnesses seen in dogs. Nevertheless, they are recalling all Advance Dermocare dry dog food products from the market in Australia in all size bags including the 3kg, 8kg, and 15kg size bags. Even though no connection has yet been found Mars said they are “working to get to the bottom of this.”

“We will continue to provide information to University of Melbourne to enable further testing, and consult with the Australian Veterinary Association,” a company spokesperson said.



The company is asking consumers to contact their vet if their pet is experiencing any problems and to return the product to stores for a refund. Mars is asking consumers to call the company if they are experiencing any problems with the dog food at 1 800 640 111 (Australia). The recalled dog food is not sold in the U.S.


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.


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Mollie Morrissette

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