Blue Buffalo dog food may be linked to serious illness

September 8, 2010

The Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service reported last week that a serious illness in dogs may be linked to the food they’ve been eating:

In message board discussions, veterinarians have revealed cases of hypercalcemia secondary to vitamin D toxicosis occurring in dogs that eat a single brand of dry pet food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Diet, chicken flavor. In each of the cases, veterinarians report that dogs’ conditions have improved after switching brands.

So far, nothing concrete has identified a causal relationship between the food and illnesses in dogs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while reportedly alerted to adverse events tied to the food, has not prompted a recall, though the VIN News Service has been unable to reach officials with the regulatory agency directly.

Officials with Wilton, Conn.-based Blue Buffalo report that “tens of thousands of dollars” and hundreds of hours have been spent analyzing various batches of dog food, including samples from bags directly linked to specific cases of dogs testing positive for hypercalcemia and vitamin D toxicity.

Richard MacLean, vice president of business affairs, says one thing is certain: Test results thus far have shown nothing unusual about the product’s formulation; amounts of calcium and vitamin D, in particular, are within the company’s specifications and well below levels that might be considered toxic. The company’s focus has been on Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe, manufactured in April 2010 with a best-used-by date of July 2011. Vitamin D toxicity, or hypervitaminosis D, induces bone loss and abnormally high serum calcium levels, which could result in kidney stones and the calcification of organs like the heart and kidneys if left untreated.

As detective stories go, this is a pretty intriguing one. Veterinarians have been putting the pieces together — one vet’s own dog was among those affected.

Blue Buffalo is paying for diagnostic tests on the sick dogs as well as agressively testing the food, for which they’re to be commended. Still, I’d like to see a pre-emptive recall even before the tests are done.

You can read the whole story here. And if you’re not already following the VIN News Service, you should make it a habit. I missed this story because it broke on the day I moved, but they do some of the best investigative work in the entire veterinary field.

Filed under: pets, connected,veterinary medicine — Christie Keith @ 5:02 am


  1. I was supplementing my dogs’ diet with Blue Buffalo at the time of the 2007 pet food recall and had recommended it to two litters’ worth of puppy buyers in the past year. They continued to claim they were not affected. Then it was revealed that their manufacturer had been adding rice protein – which was a suspect ingredient in the pet food recall – without their knowledge. Thus, they hadn’t listed it on the label, and didn’t even know it was in their food. I wrote a letter expressing my concerns to the company. I never received a reply. I haven’t bought so much as a can of Blue Buffalo since.

    Comment by YesBiscuit! — September 8, 2010 @ 6:06 am

  2. “pre-emptive recall” …music to my ears….

    Comment by Carol V — September 8, 2010 @ 6:22 am

  3. I’ve been getting chary about this brand lately because of their incredibly aggressive advertising campaign — constant television ads and popups on YouTube. Must be very expensive. Yet they try to portray the leetle tiny Mom ‘n’ Pop holistic image.

    Does not pass the stench test.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — September 8, 2010 @ 7:19 am

  4. Shirley, wasn’t that Natural Balance? Or was it both of them?

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 8, 2010 @ 9:03 am

  5. YesBiscuit wrote:
    “Then it was revealed that their manufacturer had been adding rice protein – which was a suspect ingredient in the pet food recall – without their knowledge.”

    When I last went on the hunt to find a new kibble, one of my requirements was that the food be manufactured in the company’s own plant. No outside contract manufacturing for exactly this reason. And this is exactly why I eliminated Blue Buffalo as a possible food.

    The kibble I finally selected, Champion Food’s Acana, is manufactured in their own plant. While that doesn’t guarantee no shenanigans, it does mean I only have to trust one company instead of two (or more).

    Comment by Grahund — September 8, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  6. Blue Buffalo, 2007.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 8, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  7. Christie, I remember more than one company pulling the “we don’t know what’s in our own food and the ingredient list on the label is just a SAMPLE” stunt. But I’m sure Blue Buffalo was one.

    Comment by YesBiscuit! — September 8, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  8. Wow this is getting really scary with all the pet food problems and recalls.

    Comment by Peggy Frezon — September 8, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  9. If ONLY it were pet food … but of course, it’s not.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 8, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  10. And I thought this was one of the “better” food brands.

    Comment by Norma Stevlingson — September 8, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

  11. Blue Buffalo is a corrupt company. They use all sorts of marketing gimmicks.

    Comment by Moxi — September 8, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

  12. While I don’t feed kibble, I do remember Blue Buffalo as being involved with melamine contaminated feed. I remember their whine about it was a problem with whomever they outsourced to. Like HH, I didn’t buy into the whine. You know or you don’t. You are involved with the formulation of your product or you aren’t. This is what we the consumer pay you for. If you can’t live up to your end of the bargain, screw you.

    Comment by Anne T. — September 8, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  13. My GSD ate Blue Buffalo Wilderness earlier this summer for one month. He developed severe bone pain. I switched him to the Blue Buffalo Lg Breed formula (thinking that the protein count was too high) and he cleared up. No more symptoms have appeared to date.

    Comment by P. Stickney — September 8, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

  14. I always wondered what was in their “LifeSource Bits”. They state it’s a “precise blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants” but not specifically what. I fed this a long time ago and my cats always left the “bits” in the bowl.

    Comment by 2ittybittykitties — September 8, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

  15. My Westie has been on Blue for 2 years.. and loves it. She is on the Fish and Rice formula.. not the wilderness. So far, so good with her.

    Comment by B. Hunt — September 9, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  16. I choose Blue after doing alot of research.. there seems to be so many dog foods out there.. and so much conversation about all of them. It’s hard to know what is best.. Going Raw is not an option. What is the best food for a 16 lb Westie?

    Comment by B. Hunt — September 9, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  17. How do you get them to pay for the diagnostic tests? I saw a Blue Buffalo rep in a PetSmart hanging around their food display, and told her what was going on with my dogs, and all she did was give me 4 lousy dollars worth of coupons and tell me to come back next Sunday and tell her how my dog was doing! I don’t spend my life at PetSmart, so how do I get reimbursed?! I’ve spent hundreds so far, and he’s still having problems, even though I took him off their food nearly two months ago!

    Comment by Vicki — September 9, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  18. I don’t trust any pet food manufacturer. There are no regulations so there will always be problems. Best to give your dog whatever protein you are having for dinner but with guidlines from a canine nutritionist such as Steve Brown, Beth Taylor, Mary Strauss, Lou Olson (look up books by these authors).

    Comment by sue — September 9, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  19. Vicki: Talk to your veterinarian. If he or she belongs to VIN (which all vets should and most do), s/he can ask on the boards there who to contact.

    If by some strange chance your vet doesn’t belong to VIN, then have him or her call Blue Buffalo directly.

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 9, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  20. We fed our five dogs Blue Buffalo kibble and canned food. Two of the dogs got very sick. Vomiting,diarrea.lethargy.The other three got sick too but not as bad. Our vet gave them medication and said to change brands and this worked.We now take the time make our own food.
    All our dogs are in perfect health now and their fur is soft and shiny. No more scratching either. After all the recalls and the experience we had with two of our dogs we are really scared to give them commercially prepared foods.

    Comment by Fred H. — September 10, 2010 @ 6:35 am

  21. Vicki, I agree with Christie, I would have your vet contact Blue Buffalo if they are willing and if not, I would contact them myself. I would also report your problem via the the new FDA safety reporting portal, you, as a consumer, can submit a report yourself to FDA. This is the link to the new portal. You also may wish to contact the FDA rep for your state. Best wishes that your dog starts feeling better very soon.

    Comment by Sandi K — September 10, 2010 @ 7:11 am

  22. Dear first time commentors,

    I know it’s just a coincidence that you found us just now for the first time ever when we blogged about possible health problems with this pet food, and that you’re suddenly posting here, all spontaneous-like, about how you too had problems with this food and are now going to go back to the healthy good vet-recommended Brand X that you used to feed without any problems. I know it’s not that you think we’re stooopid.


    Christie at Pet Connection

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 10, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

  23. I know it’s not an option for a lot of people, but because of my dog’s food allergies and after the big round of pet food recalls last year we’ve been making our own dog food. We mix rice, a bit of low-fat meat (often fish like rockfish), plain yogurt, eggs (with shells) and peas and carrots. We make a big batch and keep most of it in the freezer in individual feeding containers that we stick in the fridge the day before we use them. My dog has done a lot better on that mix and I don’t have to worry about weird additives – like ash. I found ash as an ingredient once in a pet food and was disgusted.

    Comment by Julia — September 10, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

  24. There are a lot of commercial pet foods on the market to choose from. Most are owned by corporate conglomerates like Proctore & Gamble (who incidentally cruelly test every product on animals incl dogs and cats)Blue is still a family owned holistic pet food company. I have fed it to my dogs for more than 8 years and they have done very well on the product-in fact they went from being sick often to not at all. As for people that switched and their dogs got sick-this will happen if you don’t transition properly or if you transition from a bottom line brand (purina one or beneful)to a top line brand and don’t transition. As for ‘aggressive marketing’ Blue has 2 tv commericals that started running in Feb 2010-one dog, one cat. There are magazine ads and reps in the stores whose purpose is to educate consumers about pet food. If you read the ingredients they speak for themselves and this year they developed size specific lines because customers asked for small and large breed kibble. To the lady making your own food-add supplements because they are not getting the vitamins and nutrients they need. ALL vets recommend SD-it is crap food(again READ the ingredients)but they get a kickback! $ talks these days. Wilderness is not for couch potatoes, it is 90% protein and recommended for working dogs and hiking dogs. It can be too taxing on their kidneys. Ever pet owner does the best they can for their pet. The most important thing to make an informed decision is to READ YOUR PET FOOD INGREDIENTS.

    Comment by Christine — September 11, 2010 @ 5:11 am

  25. Good Lord! Do you work for Blue Buffalo, or are you just especially prone to slogans and marketing hype?

    “ALL” veterinarians don’t push Science Diet. No “kickbacks” are involved, unless you consider any retail mark-up to be a “kickback.”

    “Holistic” means nothing. It’s marketing speak.

    As for the ingredients in Blue Buffalo, their ingredients come from the same sources as everyone else’s. Including, in 2007, tainted ingredients from con men in China.

    By the way, your advice to “the lady making her own food” is off the mark by a country mile, and you clearly have no business advising anyone about the diet their pets eat.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 11, 2010 @ 6:52 am

  26. Christine… just wow. You wrote:

    Blue is still a family owned holistic pet food company. I have fed it to my dogs for more than 8 years and they have done very well on the product-in fact they went from being sick often to not at all. As for people that switched and their dogs got sick-this will happen if you don’t transition properly or if you transition from a bottom line brand (purina one or beneful)to a top line brand and don’t transition.

    This is nonsense. I have transitioned dogs and cats of all ages and physical condition to a homemade diet from every kind of commercial food, from the “best” to the “worst.” I transitioned them cold turkey. Not one of them, ever, since 1986, did anything but get better. The myth of the slow transition between foods is just that: a myth. If a dog or cat has symptoms of illness when their diet is changed, that is a sign that they are NOT healthy. A healthy pet is no more unable to eat different things all the time than you or I — and in the case of dogs, MORE able.

    You also wrote:

    To the lady making your own food-add supplements because they are not getting the vitamins and nutrients they need.

    You know this through your magic ball? And where exactly do you think vitamins and minerals come from? THEY COME FROM FOOD.

    You wrote:

    Wilderness is not for couch potatoes, it is 90% protein and recommended for working dogs and hiking dogs. It can be too taxing on their kidneys.

    High protein levels in food do zero harm to canine and feline kidneys. This is a complete myth with no science whatsoever behind it. The fact that you not only believe it but shout it from the rooftops demonstrates that you have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to dog and cat nutrition.

    You also wrote:

    The most important thing to make an informed decision is to READ YOUR PET FOOD INGREDIENTS.

    The most important thing to make an informed decision is to obtain information and think critically about it. Even a PhD nutritionist, Dr. Marion Nestle, couldn’t make heads nor tails of a pet food label. Neither can anyone else. The labels are virtually useless in understanding what you’re feeding. They amount to “trust us, we know and you don’t.”

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 11, 2010 @ 8:17 am

  27. Hi Gina & Christie, I apologize for offending you. I didn’t realize that you were food nutritionists especially trained in animal welfare. If you are having trouble reading and comprehending food labels you are reading the wrong ones or do you need someone to explain what chicken carrots and peas are? As for vets making money off SD, they sure as heck do. I’ve had the VETS tell me that. What marketing hype? You must be confused with another company. You know what, feed your dogs whatever you want and good luck to you. It’s the dog that will suffer.

    Comment by Christine — September 11, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  28. Hello Christine,

    I just want to know if it is safe to continue feeding my Shelties Blue Buffalo. I lost one of my Shelties during the melamine fiasco a few years back and don’t want to take any chances. This is very scary. They now eat the Blue Buffalo type for adults,not Wilderness with chicken, mixed 50/50 with their previous food which was [brand name redacted by Christie], and they love it.I was going to switch them over completely, but now I am unsure. I haven’t seen any adverse affect thus far. I would appreciate any helpful comments. Also, everytime I have not transistioned my dogs from one food or another,they do get diarhea. When ever I have mixed a new food a little at a time, there has never been a problem.

    Comment by Roger — September 11, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

  29. @Roger, you wrote:

    everytime I have not transistioned my dogs from one food or another,they do get diarhea. When ever I have mixed a new food a little at a time, there has never been a problem.

    I wonder if you’d find it odd that every time you ate a different food or, you know, changed brands of cereal, you got diarrhea.


    Comment by Christie Keith — September 11, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  30. Comment by Christine — September 11, 2010 @ 11:04 am

    Me thinks someone might be new to PetConnection because anyone that knows even a little about Gina and Christie, knows that they take more care with their dog’s food/diet than alot of people do.

    Off to Google….’why are there turmeric and caramel in Blue Buffalo pet food’

    Comment by Sandi K — September 11, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

  31. Hi Gina & Christie, I apologize for offending you. I didn’t realize that you were food nutritionists especially trained in animal welfare.

    Oooo, that puts all of us in our place, doesn’t it!

    If you are having trouble reading and comprehending food labels you are reading the wrong ones or do you need someone to explain what chicken carrots and peas are?

    Christine, have you ever read the nutrition panel on a package of human food–any human food? I tell you what, you go to a supermarket, any supermarket, and get a package of any human-intended food, and a package of any pet food they sell–and compare the labels. Tell me if you find as much or as useful information on the pet food as on the human food.

    Or, optionally, buy some of that human food, and take it home, or more likely to the office, and compare it to the Blue Buffalo food label. Same exercise.

    As for vets making money off SD, they sure as heck do. I’ve had the VETS tell me that.

    Of course they make money selling it! There’s nothing nefarious about making a profit in retail sales, Christine. And vets are not getting “kickbacks” for selling SD, or Royal Canin, or Purina veterinary formulas, unless you regard normal retail markups as “kickbacks.”

    What marketing hype? You must be confused with another company.

    Nope. It’s Blue Buffalo that has for months now been running tv ads almost as much as Purina.

    You know what, feed your dogs whatever you want and good luck to you. It’s the dog that will suffer.

    I will feed my dog, and my cat, what I want, with or without your approval. And you know what? My vet is really impressed with the health and physical condition of both of them–but especially of the dog, who unlike the cat, accepted the addition of home-cooked to her diet, and the drastic reduction of kibble, quite happily, after the 2007 recalls made it clear that it was really safer to get them off of it, if at all possible.

    Comment by Lis — September 11, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  32. You know what, feed your dogs whatever you want and good luck to you. It’s the dog that will suffer.

    Comment by Christine — September 11, 2010

    Thanks for your “permission.”

    You’ve obviously never seen any of our pets.

    In 1995, I wrote “Cats For Dummies” with renowned veterinary cardiologist (and VIN founder) Dr. Paul Pion, who saved about 100K cats a year by discovering the link between taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy.

    His advice on pet foods after that?

    No matter how good, keep changing the diet. Because variety will help protect your pet from the problems with any one food.

    Of course, when so many companies are using the same suppliers and same plants, the advice is less useful. But it’s still a better start than blind faith in one brand.

    You’re outta here, by the way. My tolerance for people with the critical thinking and reading skills of a third grader wore out in 2007.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 11, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  33. I love this blog on all levels!

    Comment by Deb — September 11, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

  34. I’m all totally agog at the idea that disagreeing with someone means they offended me. Huh? You neither did or didn’t offend me. You just said some things that aren’t true, and I corrected them.

    Now please excuse me while I go kill my dog by feeding him food instead of supplements. ;)

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 11, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  35. Drat !! I have been feeding my dog the Wilderness variety, chicken flavor, and if I hadn’t checked your blog, wouldn’t have heard about a potential problem.

    Although they haven’t found any definitive answer, I will stop feeding it until there is some official finding. The ingredients sounded good to me – deboned chicken, sweet potatoes, cranberries, etc. Honey has been drinking a good deal of water, but it’s been 108 degrees until lately, so I’ll have to watch to see if she shows any other symptoms. She was at the vet recently, but it was before this announcement and they had no reason to check her blood levels. It IS tiresome having to worry about her food making her ill instead of simply worrying about germs and the like…

    Comment by Shadepuppy — September 11, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

  36. Ha ha.

    Comment by Erich Riesenberg — September 12, 2010 @ 2:30 am

  37. I wonder how high one’s Google rankings have to become before the starvation-waged 22-year-old in charge of “social media marketing” at any given corporation whips out her fifteen sekrit identities and descends on one’s blog?

    I wonder if this actually works on the kind of content-as-an-afterthought “pet blogs” and bulletin boards that I do not read?

    I read somewhere that corporations hire good-looking hipsters for a pittance to run around in bars and “talk up” and be seen conspicuously consuming whatever infantile flavored liquor or energy drink or other ephemeral trendy crap they are selling du jour. Is the young bar crowd stupid enough, or continually drunk enough, to fall for that?

    I guess when “virally marketing” cat food as a series of sock puppets, one needn’t be either attractive or clever, but must either naturally think and write like a semi-literate slow-on-the-uptake goon, or be able and willing to ape several such personae. (I guess that tells us what corporations think of their customers.)

    “On the internet, no one knows you are a dog.”

    As it turns out, yes they do. But it insults dogs to equate the witless barking of marketers to the more thoughtful communications from our canines.

    Here’s my brand-free recent story of feeding. Been feeding home-made mostly raw for about five years. This summer we did a long trip with three of six dogs. My Dad fed a medium-priced decent-quality kibble to the three dogs who stayed home with him. We fed a higher-priced grain-free kibble to the three that came with us. Right near the end of the trip, Dad had to buy another bag of the medium-priced kibble (I think he was overfeeding the guys at home.) We were out of raw components when we got home, and for several reasons ended up feeding out of that bag for another ten days — so dogs were eating kibble for about a month total.

    They stank. Their breath stank, their butts stank, their bodies stank. Stunk. Whatever. Their coats got dull and the ES were shedding, needed brushing, were even getting small mats. My ES never shed in the summer, never mat. The GSD moulted like she’s never moulted before. The senior Lab (who had lived his whole life on grocery-store kibble before coming to us a few months before in a terrible state of ill-health) stopped gaining the weight he needed to gain, and had been putting on while eating the home-made diet. (There’s not much that makes a Labbador happier than being told “You need to gain weight, so I’m going to feed you a LOT of meat and eggs and yogurt.) The three out of four ES who tend to be easy keepers were putting on excess weight over their ribs, but acting always hungry. I started seeing tartar on their teeth.

    One month!

    Were they “sick?” No, they were not sick. Were they well? Not by the standards I have for the working partners from whom I ask so much.

    I don’t consider “dog breath” normal. I don’t consider tartar on a dog’s teeth normal. I don’t consider a “doggy odor” from a dog’s body normal. I don’t consider *constant* dog farting normal. I don’t consider a dull coat normal, nor is constant shedding in an ES, or the bison-moult that my GSD had, to be normal. (This can be normal for some double-coated dogs, but is not for her.) Obesity is not a normal state of health; I want to easily feel every rib on every dog. But most pet owners don’t have a model for normal that doesn’t include these objectionable and unhealthy physical attributes.

    As soon as I was able to re-stock with meat for them, I gave away the last of the medium-priced kibble.

    First the assorted stinks went away, then the coats shined up (a couple meals of fresh tripe always puts a glow on a dog much faster than I would have believed possible). The Lab has already moved on to his forever home where he is gaining slowly on a better commercial food. The overweight ES started slowly taking off the rib-padding even though they were back to their maintenance ration. Working on the tartar now.

    Three weeks!

    There are times — such as travel — when *I* don’t get to eat real food the way I can at home. Same thing with the dogs. But I’m absolutely convinced now that allowing that exception to become the rule, even for a month, is a big mistake.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — September 12, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  38. HH, I’m sure you don’t mean all people in charge of SM “at any given corporation” are 22, starved and stupid. The people in my industry are the top executives and take it very seriously. Perhaps in your industry it’s different. Just wanted to put that out there.

    Comment by 2ittybittykitties — September 12, 2010 @ 9:52 am

  39. I contacted my vet, and we discussed possible blood testing and which dates of the food I had been feeding. He hadn’t heard about it until I called him. Strange thing is, he said he logged into VIN and was unable to find the discussions about Wilderness formula and hypercalcemia. He saw the VIN news article that I directed him to, but nothing in the discussion forums. He’s a bright guy, so I think he knew where to look. Don’t know what this means, if it is accurate. Does anyone here have access to the VIN message boards?

    Comment by Shadepuppy — September 13, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  40. Shadepuppy, the link to the message boards discussion, which can only be accessed by members even though it was included in the public article, is right in the article itself:

    I cannot view this link as I’m not a VIN member, but if your vet is, he will be able to.

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 13, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  41. He did – that’s what I’m saying. He accessed the discussion area but found NO discussion of the subject – as if it had been removed or never existed. Maybe he was rushed, and missed something, or perhaps info was removed…

    Comment by Shadepuppy — September 13, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  42. Shadepuppy, he should definitely look again. They wouldn’t link to it if it’s not there. And they’d NEVER, EVER remove anything like that. Ever.

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 13, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  43. Ha! In fact, knowing Dr. Paul Pion as we do, I’d say if he were threatened with a lawsuit if it weren’t removed, he’d put it on the VIN home page in a box with flashing lights and bright colors around it, and red blinking arrows to make sure no one missed it.


    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 13, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

  44. And “Sue me, I double dog dare you” in neon letters…

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 13, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

  45. Just as a general comment and apropos of nothing, here is the text of the first amendment:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Could someone point out the part where you’re guaranteed that anything you post on a blog has to be allowed out of moderation because otherwise it’s a violation of “Freedom of speech”?

    No blog is required by the Bill of Rights to permit any and every comment to go through any more than the New York Times is required to publish every “Letter to the Editor” it receives, or any article submitted to it.

    I’m just saying.

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 15, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  46. My dog has has suffered constant allergies/skin issues; I’ve been to so many vets, dermatology clinics, etc, and in the process have tried many types of diets for her.

    Every one of them has told me to switch her food gradually; it makes sense. Most people feed their pets the same thing, day in, day out for years, so a new food *is* going to be a shock to the system if not introduced gradually. There was a TV show recently about people who had odd diets (someone who ate nothing but french fries, and another guy who just ate pizza for years). The dietitians recommended the same process – introduce new foods gradually.

    I’ve found it’s best to just cook a variety of more species-appropriate foods; I’m looking into Orijen for a dry food rotation as well, though I’m worried it may be too rich for her, as she’s getting on in years and is rather sedentary.

    I like that the food is made locally, with no ingredients from China.

    Comment by Mica — September 17, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

  47. Sure, Mica, but that’s kind of my point — any diet that leaves the dog’s gut incapable of eating ANYTHING ELSE without huge upset is not a good diet and the dog is not okay when he or she is in that condition.

    We accept this and are told it’s “normal,” but it’s NOT normal. It’s a freakish effect of mono-diets.

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 17, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

  48. Christie, you hit the nail squarely on its head by saying “incapable of eating ANYTHING ELSE withoug a huge upset is not a good diet”.

    Dogs and cats have had varied diets before the invention of cat and dog food bought in the stores. To survive, these animals adapted to their environment by eating what was available to them.

    Christie, I so admire your thinking in such a wide and deep scope.

    Comment by Evelyn — September 18, 2010 @ 6:07 am

  49. Blue buffalo is causing CYSTITIS with Hematuria and outside of the box urination in my CAT.
    I recently attempted a gradual introduction of Blue buffalo dry cat food. About a week in, my cat began experiencing symptoms of cystitis; ie voiding outside of the litter box, crying when urinating, and bright red blood in the urine.
    After 2 expensive vet trips there were no signs of UTI, bladder stones, or urinary crystals. The vet diagnosed it as stress related cystitis.
    After eliminating Blue buffalo completely from the diet, the symptoms resolved spontaneously.
    About a week ago, we again tried a gradual introduction of the Blue buffalo; and yes, you guessed it, the symptoms have now started up again.
    The good news is that we now know it was not ‘stress induced cystitis’. The bad news is healthy male cats should not be urinating blood. I shudder to think what ingredient or contaminant may be causing this- I can’t help but think of people on blood thinners, such as coumadin, which are essentially derivatives of rat poison…nasty stuff that causes death by massive internal bleeding…
    if you try Blue buffalo for your furry little friends; and start to notice problems, do yourself a favor before the huge vet bills- get them off this food, watch them closely, and make sure they have plenty of clean, fresh water.

    Comment by matt — September 19, 2010 @ 1:01 am

  50. if you are having issues also look at the treats you give your dog or cat!
    when shopping I see people grabbbing cans on sale mixing them and mixing the dry foods to save money buying whats on sale for that too.
    so I find it doubtful you are able to verify what really makes your dogs or cats ill!
    I also find it hard to believe that an illness is immediately corrrected after removing the suspect food,,,it takes min 30 days for old food to leave the system.

    Comment by Kara — September 20, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  51. it takes min 30 days for old food to leave the system.

    Comment by Kara — September 20, 2010

    Citation, please?

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — September 20, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  52. I can’t BELIEVE these spammers are still coming here using the exact same “spontaneous personal story” comment. How can anyone be this clueless?

    Comment by Christie Keith — September 24, 2010 @ 9:25 am

  53. Interesting discussion….I’m still left unsure. Feedback would be appreciated.

    I just adopted a 1yr old, 77lb. Golden. He looks great. His coat is a little rough. His former owners “free fed” his three dogs regular Purina Dog Chow. I felt that I could do better so I bought BB chicken and brown rice large breed. I tried to switch him over gradually…but he hasn’t shown much of an appetite at all. I’m used to Goldens who’s stomachs are like clocks!…Anyhow, through a little less-than-scientific expirement, I conclucded he really doesn’t like his old food. He will eat the BB…but it takes a lot of coaxing.

    So now,…w/ out a gradual switch over, he is just eating BB. No adverse effects so far…but w/ all the chatter involving BB…I’m a nervous mom…

    Anyother food anyone would recommend for a picky Golden?

    I probably wouldn’t be able to feed him BB forever because of the cost.

    Comment by gilbert — October 1, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  54. Do you know people are STILL coming in here with their forumulaic posts? This is how they go:

    History of problems with the brand of food that’s the subject of this post.

    Long sad veterinary story. While the details here always vary, the general outline is the same.

    Now that the cat or dog is on Brand X (a variety of brands, not just one), everything is fine.

    Very happy with Brand X now, but it’s expensive/hard to get, so can anyone recommend something else to try?

    It’s obvious that this isn’t a single pet food company directing this, because the “Brand X” is all over the place. I’m pretty sure this formula is originating from some new astro-turf format designed by some PR flack and executed by hired hands without much in the way of autonomy in what they say.

    I guess it must be working because they never give up. All I know is it’s not working HERE.

    Comment by Christie Keith — October 5, 2010 @ 8:53 am

  55. And actually, there’s a variation on this, and the post above by “gilbert” is an example:

    History of problems while eating Brand Y that were RESOLVED BY the food that’s the subject of this post. But now the pet owner is concerned because of the information in the post, OR because of cost/accessibility/palatibility, and is looking for a recommendation for a good food.

    Of course, there’s no reason someone couldn’t have these experiences. I’m sure people have. It’s the SAMENESS of these comments that gives them away.

    Comment by Christie Keith — October 5, 2010 @ 8:57 am

  56. Christie: It’s almost funny now. I read the posts and try to figure out if they are ‘real’ or not. Then I wait for your post to see if I’ve guessed correctly. I’m getting much better at it; I used to fall for them but am now catching the pattern! snicker…..

    Comment by Liz Palika — October 5, 2010 @ 9:55 am

  57. It’s Friday, and (drumroll pleaze)


    Apparently the animals were getting vitamin D poisoning.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — October 8, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  58. Hah! Okay, now I have to edit my post, LOL!

    Comment by Christie Keith — October 8, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  59. I just got a question from a friend asking “ok, so what does ‘too much vitamin D mean? What does it do? I thought Vitamin D was good.’ Yes. Vitamin D = good. Too much Vitamin D = toxic. It leads to something called hypercalcemia. The following is from the Canadian Veterinary Journal: (bold added is mine)

    Hypercalcemia is always a concern, because concentrations greater than about 4 mmol/L can result in renal failure, mineralization of the kidneys and other soft tissues, cardiac dysrhythmia and dysfunction, and other medical problems and emergencies (1–4). Hypercalcemia is also worrisome, because the most common cause in dogs, as in humans, is cancer (hypercalcemia of malignancy) (2–4). Some other causes of hypercalcemia in dogs include acute and chronic renal failure, primary hyperparathyroidism, hypoadrenocorticism, hypervitaminosis D, bone diseases associated with osteolysis, and granulomatous inflammation (1,3–6).

    Comment by David S. Greene — October 8, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  60. We had a dog very sick after feeding for 2 weeks call the phone number for help on the recall page and it is not in service a bogus phone number for help GOOD JOB BB

    Comment by Amalapac — October 8, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

  61. Hi: I wanted to post that my dog a young robust male Wire Fox Terrier was affected by this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken before it was recalled. He was one of several dogs in the US that had developed frequent urination first, lost his zip and became lethargic and very ill, he tested hypercalcemic and had to go through several rigorous, invasive expensive tests (we could not afford, but got a Care Credit card) for Addisons disease, renal failure, and cancer. We were down to the end of our ropes thinking we were going to lose our beloved TWO year old dog to a horrible disease- he would just lay and pant. This is what happens when your dog is hypercalcimic:

    “Excess calcium removed from the bones can cause them to become brittle. It can also overwork and damage the kidneys, which try to reduce the amount in the blood, and result in calcium deposits in the body that cause pain and inflammation”

    So sad. I never connected the food- I was very loyal to Blue Buffalo, but my vet suggested switching it out the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken food to see if he felt better. within three days my dog returned to his formal self. I sent the food for testing and the ingredients in the “bits” where found to have toxic levels of Vitamin D. A week after I sent this information to Blue Buffalo they recalled the food and told me they would refund our vet bills. We are still stuck with our pain and sorrow from the experience.

    Blue Buffalo has still not compensated us -dreadful! I have be reassured by their friendly PR person that is is “being processed.” Take this information as you will. I think you can speculate how I fell about the company. It was the worst and most heartbreaking experience with any product.

    Comment by Agatha — October 22, 2010 @ 7:13 am

  62. I just found out about the recall on Blue
    I have been feeding my miniature australian shepherd blue (first beef and now chicken) for about a year, in the last 6 months she has been having infections, the vet cannot figure out what is going on he did not question her food but after spending $800 on xrays blood work urine tests and medications I am going to have the food tested and tomorrow I am switching food…………has anyone returned the food back to the pet store yet.

    Comment by lori dearen — October 29, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

  63. I have done a serious amount of research on this BB thing. They talk a really good game. The bottom line is this the food is bad and there is more bad food than they are admitting to. They didn’t admit there was a problem until they had to (Michigan University releasing their report the same day as the recall), there isn’t anything voluntary about that. They are not admitting there are dogs that are passing away, they are minimizing the issue. Calcium issues are very serious for dogs and can cause kidney failure and heart issues, blood clots and and deposits on the dogs bones. They are not telling the public any of this. The claim they are going to pay vet bills, I suppose that’s if you go through some serious hoops. I haven’t seen were one person has been paid. It seems they are not calling people back in a timely manner if at all. There seems to be a whole lot of not at all. They aren’t even answering the phones, the recall line is answering, with limited answers.

    I realize mistakes happen but they are only talking a good game they are not following up with their claims!

    Comment by Sara — November 4, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  64. CAUTION! PURCHASING BLUE BUFFALO DOG FOOD MAY RESULT IN SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUES FOR YOUR DOG. I purchased a medium size bag of BLUE BUFFALO LIFE PROTECTION SENIOR FORMULA dog food on 10/20/10 and my dog had extreme bloody diarrhea by 10/27/10. Previous to this episode my dog had finished her first small bag of the weight control chicken & brown rice formula without incident. My vet in Irvine, CA reported seeing several dogs with similar symptoms that had recently purchased a new bag of blue buffalo dog food. Apparently my dog had the most severe reaction, with diarrhea lasting 2 weeks and an intestinal tract infection, resulting in vet bills totaling $478.13. PetsMart took the product back for a full refund (without the bag) and took a full report of the incident and copies of my vet bills to file a report with their corporate office.

    Comment by Madonna — November 17, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

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