Tip of the Week
Dog food recall: How high levels of vitamin D can be toxic for pets
Ashley May, USA TODAY
High levels of vitamin D have prompted several pet food brands to recall dog food in recent months, citing how too much of the nutrient can actually cause health problems.
Last week, Hill's Pet Nutrition, a company specializing in prescription food, voluntarily recalled more than 20 types of its canned dog food after receiving a complaint about a dog "exhibiting signs of elevated vitamin D levels," the company said in a statement. A company investigation said the problem stemmed from a supplier error.
In December, several dog food brands recalled varieties of dry dog food over "potentially toxic levels of vitamin D."
So, exactly, how can too much vitamin D hurt a dog's health?
The amount depends on the dog's age, weight and overall health, said Michael San Filippo, spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association. He recommends pet owners talk with their vet about the best diet for their dog and provide pictures of their pet food labels.
Here's what else you should know:
Isn't vitamin D helpful?
Yes, vitamin D is an important nutrient for dogs that helps regulate calcium and phosphorus. It's essential for bone growth, San Filippo said. But any animal can suffer health problems if they eat too much of it.
Symptoms of sickness
Dogs who eat too much vitamin D could vomit, stop eating, drink and urinate more frequently, drool excessively and loose weight, according to the FDA.
High levels of vitamin D in a dog's system can cause kidney failure and even death.
How common is vitamin D toxicity?
Death from high levels of vitamin D in dogs is "highly uncommon," San Filippo said. Illness is more of a concern, he said. Usually vets see such cases from dogs who've gotten into supplements or rodenticides, he said. Too little vitamin D can also cause illness.
In December of 2018, nine dog food companies recalled products over concern for vitamin D toxicity. They all shared a common contract manufacturer, according to the FDA. A recall notice for one of the nine recalled dog food brands characterized the issue as a "formulation error," an FDA spokesperson noted. Hill's hasn't disclosed if its recall stems from the same source. The company did say in a statement that the cause was a "supplier error."
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