A California pet owner is furious that Nutro Products continues to claim its dry dog foods are safe.That companys senior dry food, she says, nearly killed her two dogs.
In another development, Menu Foods said it is phasing out ingredients from China until it is assured they're safe. Chinese ingredients have been blamed for the wave of pet poisonings across the country.
I cannot even begin to describe the hell our pets have gone through, Cynthia H. of West Hills, California, says of her six-year-old Pomeranian, Killer, and her nine-year-old American Eskimo-Sheltie mix, Juliet. This has been weeks of vomiting and diarrhea and illness -- skin infections, bladder infections, not eating, lethargy -- basically, they were poisoned by this bad food.
Cynthia says shed just started feeding her dogs Nutro Maxs Senior Dry food around the first of this month, and chose that brand because it wasnt included in the nationwide recall of more than 60 million containers of pet foods.
Thats the irony of the whole thing. This food was something new that I started feeding them because of the pet food recall. I was being very careful not to give things on that recall list.
Since March, 18 companies have recalled more than 5,600 pet food products. That action came after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed two ingredients used to make the products -- wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate -- were tainted with melamine and melamine-related compounds.
Melamine is a chemical used to make plastic and fertilizers. It is not approved for use in pet or human food.
The FDA also discovered the Chinese companies that exported those ingredients to the United States intentionally spiked the products with melamine to increase the protein content.
Thousands of dogs and cats that have eaten the contaminated pet food have suffered kidney problems or died.
In Cynthias case, her dogs became sick shortly after they started eating Nutro Maxs dry food. And their symptoms mirror those in pets that have eaten the tainted -- and recalled -- foods.
Juliet got sick first, Cynthia says, adding she bought the Nutro Max dry food in April, but didnt start feeding it to her dogs until May. And she has been very ill for nearly three weeks. Shes had bloody diarrhea, repeated vomiting, and her system also started shutting down, resulting in a bad bladder infection. She has also been on two different types of medications.
Cynthias Pomeranian experienced similar problems.
He has vomited and had severe diarrhea for more than a week. His system started to shut down, and he ended up with a serious skin infection. Hes still on antibiotics and is not yet well.
Both dogs, she says, were also extremely lethargic.
I was down at the vets office with both of them and I didnt think theyd come back. Theyve been through hell.
Is it possible that anything besides of the food made the dogs sick?
No way, Cynthia says.
My dogs have been incredibly healthy dogs. Theyre indoors dogs and only go outside with me supervising them. Theres nothing else they could have gotten into; theres nothing else that could have done this to them.
She adds: I just know it happened because of the food.
Her vet agrees. She concurred with me that I should stop feeding them Nutro Max.
To protect other dogs from getting sick, Cynthia contacted the FDA and Nutro Products with her concerns about the dry food.
I filed a compliant with the FDA, but theyre being very unresponsive. I called the Los Angeles office in Orange County and got a call back from someone in Arizona. Apparently, Los Angeles got a lot of bad pet food and there are a massive amount of people calling the FDA office in Orange County.
Orange Countys FDA office wanted samples of the food and they were going to send someone over to my house to pick it up, she adds. But they havent called me in three weeks. I thought there should be some urgency because this stuff is still on the shelves.
How did Nutro Products respond?
My concerns fell on deaf ears, Cynthia says. I did speak to someone in their corporate office and they kept saying that they feel their dry food is safe. They are also refusing to do anything for anyone. And Im out $500 in vet bills.
Cynthia isnt the only pet owner who has contacted ConsumerAffairs.com with concerns about Nutros dry food.
Consider some of the similar complaints weve received in the past few months:
• Kevin S. of Roseville, California, wrote: I have to put down my dog of six years today as she has the same symptoms as the other animals that have eaten contaminated foods. I realize that there has been no official recall of dry dog food, but my dog has only eaten two products in her life, Nutro Max dry dog food and Purina Beggin Strips. Please stop this nightmare and help keep other animals safe for this tragic event. I have spent over two thousand dollars attempting to save my dog. Today is her last day as she is being put to sleep this afternoon.
• Bonita L. Wachs of Germantown, Wisconsin, told us: My three-year-old Shih Tzu became very ill in the fall of 2006. She was extremely thirsty, drank excessively, lost her appetite, lost weight, had diarrhea and vomiting, was lethargic, and was very ill. She refused to eat her food, but, as many owners did, we forced her to eat the food she didn't want. She developed a high level of glucose in her urine and a urinary tract infection.
"The vet was stumped with her condition. I had asked if it could be her dry dog food -- Nutro Max. The vet said that was a good brand and did not think so. In the spring, when the pet food scare was in full force, I called the service line and reported my dogs illness to the company. They said they had not had any problems with the dry food or Nutro treats, but would document my complaint. I switched to Purina dog food back in January, and now my dog is clear of glucose in her urine. The vet is still stumped, but happy she is well. Molly had a rough few months, and we have a few hundred dollars in vet bills. We pray there is no physical damage to her kidneys.
• Angelique of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, told us: My dog (only four-years-old) died within 4 days of me buying a new bag of Nutro Max dry dog food. This is not on the list of recalled foods, but this was the only major change in his diet and he was never out of my sight. He was fine on Sunday until 2 a.m. when he started having diarrhea,vomiting, lethargy, bloody diarrhea, and by the time I took him to the hospital at 1 p.m. the next day he was in shock. His system shut down and he died at around 4:30 p.m. This needs to be stopped. The company refuses to acknowledge there is a problem, but if you search on the Internet you will find many people saying the exact same thing happened to them. This food needs to be recalled now.
ConsumerAffairs.com tried to reach Nutro Products, but the company did not return our calls.
A press release on the companys Web site, however, states: Nutro wishes to reassure its customers that Nutro's dry dog and cat foods are safe to feed their petsand none of Nutro's dry pet foods are involved in the latest dry pet food recall announcements involving contaminated rice protein from China.
The press release also states: None of Nutro's dry dog or cat foods have been involved in any of the melamine related recallsand an independent testing laboratory has tested the rice protein used in Nutro's dry pet foods and no melamine was detected.
In the current environment, we want to communicate frequently with our customers about Nutro's products and reassure you that our dry dog and cat foods are safe.
Cynthia vehemently disagrees. And she plans to continue warning other pet owners about Nutros dry dog food.
This food was supposed to be safe and it isntit nearly killed our two dogs.
Menu Foods Makes a Change
In related pet food recall news, Menu Foods announced this week that it will no longer source vegetable proteins --like wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate -- from China until those ingredients are deemed safe.
Menu is phasing out all ingredients from China until such time as Menu and its customers are convinced of their safety, attorney David Lillehaug told ConsumerAffairs.com on Tuesday.
Menu isnt the only pet food manufacturer taking this stance against China.
Royal Canin USA announced last week that it will no longer source vegetable proteins from that country.