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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.


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.


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.


Product Name SKU Number Lot Code/Date Code
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® c/d® Multicare Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5oz 3384 102020T10
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5oz 3389 102020T04
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 5.5oz 3390 102020T11
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® z/d® Canine 5.5oz 5403 102020T17
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® g/d® Canine 13oz 7006 112020T19
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Canine 13oz 7008 092020T30
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® j/d® Canine 13oz 7009 112020T20
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® k/d® Canine 13oz 7010 102020T10
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® w/d® Canine 13oz 7017 092020T30
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® z/d® Canine 13oz 7018 102020T04
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® Metabolic + Mobility Canine Vegetable & Tuna Stew 12.5oz 10086 102020T05
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® w/d® Canine Vegetable & Chicken Stew 12.5oz 10129 102020T04
Hill’s® Prescription Diet® i/d® Low Fat Canine Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew 12.5oz 10423 102020T17
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
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
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Beef & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13oz 7056 092020T31
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
Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult 7+ Youthful Vitality Chicken & Vegetable Stew dog food 12.5oz 10763 102020T04


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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  Information can also be found at .

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


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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.