By Christie Keith
September 8, 2010
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 dogsâ€™ 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 â€œtens of thousands of dollarsâ€ 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 productâ€™s formulation; amounts of calcium and vitamin D, in particular, are within the companyâ€™s specifications and well below levels that might be considered toxic. The companyâ€™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.