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.
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."
Scores of other pet owners echo these concerns. Consider some of their pets' recent experiences with NUTRO:
• Michele T. of Northridge, California: "I've been feeding my dogs NUTRO Natural Choice Senior kibble for years. Lately, the last few months, they've both had very upset tummies and very unusual and loose stools."
• Rachel B. of Indianapolis, Indiana: "I have a three-year-old Poodle who I got from a rescue (group), and he's been on NUTRO Max since I've had him. Within the last few months, he has had quite a few digestive problems that his vet has not been able to figure out thus far. He has not been eating like he normal does and his stools have been incredible sporadic -- soft then hard, then soft then bloody. His appetite has been pretty bad. He'll wait to eat until he's starving because he doesn't want to eat the food. He's drinking water like he's been in the desert, and coughing and dry heaving a lot. He repeatedly tests negative for stomach parasites and we have been uncertain what the problem was until I received an e-mail about NUTRO foods from the shelter he came from. I know I will be weaning him off NUTRO immediately!"
• Kelly M. of Moyock, North Carolina: "I switched my dogs to NUTRO Natural Choice Large Breed chicken and rice, thinking I was improving the quality of their food. They loved it! Unfortunately, a few days after I began feeding the new food, which I converted by mixing in increasing quantities over a week long period, both of my dogs -- a Great Dane and a Dane/Blue Tick mix -- developed watery bowels and lots of digestive activity. We took the Dane to the vet, because he exhibited symptoms first, and they performed a fecal test for both parasites and Giardia. Both were negative. When the other dog began having the same symptoms, I began to suspect the food. I placed a call to NUTRO yesterday and spoke to a customer service representative. She said they had never heard of any dogs having problems like the ones I described. And then, the next day, I found your Web site and saw the numerous complaints. I am not pleased."
• Lin D. of Fresno, California: "I have three miniature pinschers and it (the NUTRO food) has affected all of them same way – diarrhea, throwing up, loose stools or totally water stools. They have eaten this food for four years and never had any problems until this last bag. The thing that was interesting is when I opened the last bag and scooped out the food, it was more grainy than normal. My eight-pound girl, she's a wolf and eats everything, she kind of backed away from the food and I had to coerce her to eat. I have taken my dogs off NUTRO and they are doing fine. I also called NUTRO and spoke to a representative in consumer service. She, too, said she had not heard of any problems with the food. She is blaming the shipping and storing of the food – she kind of giggled when she said it. I won't go back to that food. My dogs are much too precious to me and I am extremely fortunate I didn't lose them to a bad bag of food."
• Jacki G. of Dornsife, Pennsylvania: "I recently purchased a 40 pound bag of NUTRO Natural Lamb and Rice small bites for my Weimer. We've been very happy until this last bag (dated 10 may 2009,13:38 2 a x 4 j p). Our dogs were throwing up, diarrhea as well as the usual allergy reactions. I figured they had gotten into something they shouldn't have, so I fed them brown rice and boiled ground beef to allow their bellies to settle down. The dogs got better. I resumed feeding NUTRO, with the same results. I figured the bag was somehow tainted with corn (which the Weimer is allergic to), causing the intestinal and other reactions. I purchased another food. Symptoms immediately subsided. I was determined not to waste a 40 pound bag of dog food, so I tried to mix it 50/50 with the good food. Bad Idea! Immediate return of symptoms. I called the company to report my dismay. After a 25 minute wait I spoke to a very uninterested woman, who told be to take the food back to the store for a new bag or a refund. I was shocked there was not more alarm that their food wasn't properly manufactured. I was frustrated and dumbfounded at this lack of customer service. I then Googled to see if there was anything going on with other folks. Wow, am I surprised – and a little scared that I tried so long to get my Zippo to eat this food."
• Leigh P. of Olmsted Falls, Ohio: "After years on NUTRO, both my cats started vomiting almost daily. I did plenty of research, feeling that I should switch their food. I will never feed commercial brands like this again. My cats are now on a raw BARF diet, which they were designed to eat, and they are thriving and healthy. My Persian cat, who lost fur four years ago from an illness, is now fluffy again after just 1 month on raw. Don't feed NUTRO or commercial brands. Now I feel guilty for donating this poison to my animal shelter."
Click Here to read the entire article from Lisa Wade McCormick, ConsumerAffairs.Com
When feeding a dog food, you need to ask yourself - Do You Really Know What's In Your Pet's Food? Also, take the time to read your pet food label and question ingredients. Learn more about comparing pet food ingredients and what you should be looking for. If you call your pet food company can you actually speak with the manufacturer of their products? Dr Jane Bicks, the product formulator for HealthyPetNet's product line welcomes consumer questions. She hosts a Thursday evening conference call. If you have a specific question about HealthyPetNet products that you would personally like to ask Dr Jane than please email us for the call info.