String of Illnesses Afflicts NUTRO-Fed Pets
Company insists its food is '100% safe'
By Lisa Wade McCormick
April 18, 2008
• RECALL LIST
• Consumer Complaints
A worrisome health trend among dogs and cats across the country has surfaced in the past few months. Scores of pets from California to South Carolina have experienced sudden and recurring bouts of diarrhea, vomiting, and other digestive problems.
Through an examination of reports submitted by readers, ConsumerAffairs.com has uncovered a common link among these pets: They all ate the same brand of food: NUTRO pet food.
In all of the cases we've examined, the animals' conditions improved once their owners switched them to another brand of food.
"I've been feeding my chocolate Lab, Indy, NUTRO for almost four years," said Laura F. of Las Vegas, Nevada. "He's always been happy, healthy, and big. Recently I switched him to NUTRO (Natural Choice) Lite at my vet's request. Three weeks ago, he started vomiting uncontrollably."
Laura said her veterinarian initially thought Indy had pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. The vet prescribed some medication and Indy's condition gradually improved.
"Now, three weeks later, he started vomiting again," she said, adding she continued to feed her dog NUTRO. "He's now lost about 8 pounds in three weeks and is weak and lethargic.
"The vet believes -- as do I -- that it is the food," she said.
Laura switched brands of dog food and Indy's health improved. After a while, Laura tried mixing in the NUTRO with the new food. But that turned out to be a bad idea.
"The vomiting started again," Laura said. "I also noticed that he only ate about half his food and was actually dropping the NUTRO out and trying to only eat the Science Diet. I think even my dog knows there is something wrong with the NUTRO food.
"I will never feed any of my pets NUTRO again."
We've heard similar stories and sentiment from scores of pet owners nationwide -- many of whom are loyal NUTRO customers. We've also heard from a pet store employee, who noticed these same digestive problems with her clients' pets that ate NUTRO products.
A pet owner in South Carolina told us that she found foreign objects in her last few bags of NUTRO foods.
And a disabled woman in California said all these pets' health problems have given her a horrible sense of déjà vu. Her service dog, she said, experienced these same digestive problems a few years ago – after eating NUTRO food.
"I would not venture to give any pet one nugget of NUTRO food after what my dog went through," said Maggie D. of San Francisco.
NUTRO, however, defended its products.
A spokeswoman told us she is unaware of any substantiated medical problems like these linked to her company's pet food.
Many NUTRO customers also tout the food, saying it's an excellent product. Veterinarians told ConsumerAffairs.com that many factors can cause gastrointestinal problems in dogs and cats, including changes in diet, newly-developed sensitivities to pet food, or viral infections.
But scores of pet owners who've contacted us are convinced that something is now wrong with NUTRO's food.
They're pet owners like Lynn C. of Cabot, Arkansas.
"I've used NUTRO for years and never had any problems," she told us. "But my 10-year-old border collie, Boo, became sick six weeks ago. He was lethargic, lost weight, and when evaluated by a veterinarian, his liver enzymes were critical. They were elevated…off the chart. My vet said we've got to do something.
"She put him on antibiotics and a strong amino acid, but he continued to deteriorate."
A week into Boo's treatment, a co-worker told Lynn about problems she'd read about regarding NUTRO's pet food.
"I had never dreamed it could be the food," she said. "I'm feeding all four of my dogs the food, so why all of the sudden would it affect Boo? The other three are still thriving. But they're younger—and he's the smallest dog."
Lynn did some digging and found the complaints filed by pet owners on ConsumerAffairs.com.
"I was shocked at the information that I found on NUTRO," she said. "I faxed pages and pages of this information to my veterinarian, who became alarmed and told me to stop feeding him the NUTRO."
Within days, Boo's condition improved.
"He started acting like he felt better," Lynn said. "It's amazing. He wasn't responding until I took him off the NUTRO food. Within a week, he had regained two pounds, and after two weeks, his liver enzymes were still high, but improving.
"I cannot explain why this happened all of the sudden since Boo has been eating this food for years. But I know my dog and I know it was the food."
Another pet owner in the small town of Cabot, Arkansas, who shows Westies, said her dogs experienced the same problems with NUTRO's food.
"I started using NUTRO Natural Choice for my show dogs last fall," said Judy Y., who has fed dogs NUTRO on and off for years. "With the last two bags my dogs started to lose weight and their stools were extremely soft. One litter had constant diarrhea. They were losing weight, their coats were not in the condition they should be. And after they ate, they would suck up water like they hadn't had any all day.
"The only dog I wasn't having problems with was the old dog that can only eat raw meat, no dog food at all."
Judy also noticed that one of her puppies wasn't growing.
"She was growing fine until I put her on NUTRO," Judy said. "And then it was like she just stopped growing. She looked like she had been starved and her coat looked real bad."
Judy's vet examined the dogs -- and their stools -- and didn't find any problems.
"So I said the heck with the commercial dog food and I started feeding all my dogs raw food," Judy said. "They've all bounced back. They have all gained weight and their hair is growing again."
The only exception is the puppy that had growth problems.
"My puppy is 10 months old now and her growth seems to be stunted," Judy said. "I have never had this happen in the 40 years I have been showing and breeding dogs. I'm not sure this show quality puppy will now get big enough to show or breed. It is so heart breaking to see such a good quality dog not live up to her potential because of a dog food."
There is more to the article at the above link.