SAN ANTONIO -- A San Antonio woman believes a popular kind of dog food she gave to her two dogs made them so sick, she had to put them down. Other dog owners across the nation are making similar claims, too.
The particular dog food the woman called us about is the canned Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice meal for seniors. The woman says she gave it to her older dog first and then to her younger dog. Within weeks, they were both dead.
"We had two healthy dogs," Jennie Vasquez told us. "And within a month, they're both gone from eating the same thing. That's the only thing we can assume."
In August, Vasquez decided to put her 14-year-old dog, Slinky, on soft food. An employee at a popular pet store recommended Nutro's Natural Choice for Seniors. But within weeks, Slinky became very sick.
"He had projectile vomit, was very lethargic, looked very confused and out of it," said Vasquez. "(He was) Walking into things and just had a complete loss of appetite."
The veterinarian couldn't figure out what was wrong with Slinky and Vasquez decided to put him down. Then Daisy, her other dog, got sick too.
"She ate the rest of his meal that he didn't eat," said Vasquez. "And then another week went by, and she was sick."
Eventually, Daisy stopped eating too, and Vasquez was forced to put her down.
"The only thing they found was an enlarged liver," Vasquez told us. "And her liver levels were really high, which is linked to all the reviews we read online."
Vasquez searched the internet for information about Nutro dog food and found a site loaded with complaints from dog owners about the dog food which listed symptoms similar to those Vasquez's dogs experienced: liver problems, vomiting, even death.
We looked at the Food and Drug Administration website and found a 2007 recall on Nutro dog products for melamine and cyanuric acid contamination which safety experts say can be deadly, especially for small dogs. We had one of Vasquez's cans of food tested at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System. The results came back negative. There were no signs of melamine nor cyanuric acid.
So what does The Nutro Company have to say about all these complaints? A spokesperson sent us this statement:
"The safety and well-being of the pets we feed is our top priority. We have no reason to believe that Nutro pet food would contribute to the loss of a pet, and we want to assure each consumer that our products are safe, made with some of the highest quality standards in the industry, and undergo more than 600 quality checks before leaving our factory." (Read full statement below.)
"Do research on it," Vasquez said. "Because we didn't, and our dogs are gone."
Not all the reviews on consumeraffairs.com were negative. People also had positive things to say about Nutro products. The Nutro Company encourages anyone with a complaint, especially when it involves a sick pet, to contact the company directly.
Nutro's Full Statement
The vast majority of the consumer complaints are from 2009 when consumeraffairs.com wrongly accused The Nutro Company of being under investigation by the FDA. To put this into perspective, only 12 percent of the total reviews are from 2011 and 2012 and represent a mixture of animal reaction complaints and compliments. Because we value the concerns and feedback of our consumers, we encourage each reviewer to contact us directly so we can properly investigate their situation. At The Nutro Company, the safety and well-being of the pets we feed is our top priority. That’s why we encourage each pet owner to contact us directly with their concerns. We understand that losing a pet is never easy, and we’d like the opportunity to fully investigate the situation. We have no reason to believe that Nutro pet food would contribute to the loss of a pet, and we want to assure each consumer that our products are safe, made with some of the highest quality standards in the industry, and undergo more than 600 quality checks before leaving our factory. We remain confident in the safety and quality of our products. We routinely cross-reference our own data to determine if the reviewers on consumeraffairs.com have contacted us directly. Because we value the concerns and feedback of our consumers, we’re disheartened to learn that most of them have not contacted us directly, which makes it difficult to review for similarities. We are committed to the quality, safety and performance of all our pet food brands. As we have for over 80 years, we strive to deliver the finest natural products to our customers and their pets.
CLICK HERE to file a complaint about any Nutro pet product.