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FYI:MSU researchers link pet food, dog illnesses nationwide

MSU researchers link pet food, dog illnesses nationwide — College Of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A team of researchers at Michigan State University has discovered a group of illnesses reported in dogs across the country is linked to a specific brand of dog food from the Blue Buffalo Co.

Veterinarians from across the country recently began sending samples from dogs with elevated levels of calcium in their blood to MSU’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, director Carole Bolin said. The sick dogs had increased thirst and urination, and some of them also suffered weight loss, loss of appetite and signs of kidney damage.

Endocrinologists with the Diagnostic Center, a service unit of the College of Veterinary Medicine, soon noticed the pattern and found a common factor: All 16 dogs whose samples were tested had very high levels of vitamin D in their blood and were fed a diet of Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Chicken Recipe.

The diagnostic center is cooperating with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration on an investigation into the brand, Bolin said.

“The only reason we were able to identify the pattern is because of the vast national resource our center has become,” said Bolin, who added her lab performs more than 1.3 million tests a year. “Because of our nationwide reach and expertise, we were able to discover this and notify the proper authorities.”

It is routine for veterinarians across the country to contact the center for specialized testing to explore the causes of clinical conditions. In this specific case, all the dogs were found to have very high levels of vitamin D in their serum, a quite unusual finding. Endocrinologist Kent Refsal picked up on the pattern of cases and began to investigate.

The affected dogs ranged in age from 8 months to 8 years. There were three mixed-breed dogs and 13 purebred dogs. The samples originated from eight states: Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, North Dakota and Utah. In addition to the testing, there was either a brief written history and/or communication with the referring veterinarian to discuss the possible sources of excess vitamin D.

Dogs seem to recover when the diet is changed, Bolin said, and there have not been any reported deaths related to the diet.
 

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Wow, I hope everything is ok. DVGRR uses Blue Buffalo, I just sen them the link to this article. Thanks for posting it.
 

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This is one of the highest rated food's you're able to buy. Thank you so much for this information! Have they indicated that it is related to any specific ingredient?
 

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This is one of the highest rated food's you're able to buy. Thank you so much for this information! Have they indicated that it is related to any specific ingredient?
Yet another piece of proof that a lot of those ratings are absolute bunk.

They have no idea what caused it. Their recall statement says a supplier included more vitamin D than they were supposed to (which means the supplier is actually formulating major components of the food before it gets to Blue Buffalo's facility?), but that claim is contradicted by what the researchers initially said, which is that they weren't finding excess vitamin D in the samples of food they tested.

Blue Buffalo is well rated because their Wilderness blends conform to the philosophy of those dog food rating websites, not because of any empirical evidence that shows lots of different dogs thriving on their foods.

Look around the forum and you'll see a lot more threads about how Blue Buffalo is making dogs sick and giving them soft stools than you'll find threads raving about it.
 

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well said Brian.


Yet another piece of proof that a lot of those ratings are absolute bunk.

They have no idea what caused it. Their recall statement says a supplier included more vitamin D than they were supposed to (which means the supplier is actually formulating major components of the food before it gets to Blue Buffalo's facility?), but that claim is contradicted by what the researchers initially said, which is that they weren't finding excess vitamin D in the samples of food they tested.

Blue Buffalo is well rated because their Wilderness blends conform to the philosophy of those dog food rating websites, not because of any empirical evidence that shows lots of different dogs thriving on their foods.

Look around the forum and you'll see a lot more threads about how Blue Buffalo is making dogs sick and giving them soft stools than you'll find threads raving about it.
 

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There have been some recent threads about some dogs having problems and they were on Blue Buffalo. I hope these people see it and change the food.
 

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This scares the heck out of me, because I probably would have put my Jacks (when he was a puppy) on this kibble because of their reputation (what other dog owners have said, not rating websites).

And Michigan is one of the states with reported problems....
 

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Their recall statement says a supplier included more vitamin D than they were supposed to (which means the supplier is actually formulating major components of the food before it gets to Blue Buffalo's facility?),
What the statement said was the supplier produced a Vitamin E supplement immediately prior to producing the a component of the Blue food. Have you ever seen industrial food making facilities? They can and do use the same machines to make a variety of things. Food makers (human and dog) also blend ingredients from different suppliers to make a product. Recently I was on a beer tasting and the hops are prepared and pelletized and delivered in giant bags by an outside supplier, these hops then go into the beer being made. In the case at hand, apparently they are not supposed to produce Blue's needed ingredient right after they make whatever E supplement they make (probably unrelated to Blue food ingredients) because they said it was a scheduling error at the supplier. therefore the Vitamin E from the supplier's previous production run when they made the E supplement tainted the Blue food ingredient.

Sucks, but perfectly understandable. It was an error in scheduling. Glad they fixed it.
 

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This is one of the highest rated food's you're able to buy.
I agree with TK, this is a prime example illistrating that those rating sites are a total load of bunk.


Well here's a little kibble for thought.


There are a number of threads that bash Iams/Eukanuba because they're owned by the giant P&G. (The same is often said of Nestle Purina.) The popular rating sites consistently give kibble produced by P&G low ratings, yet people who's livelihoods depend on the performance of the dogs in their care feed Iams/Eukanuba/Purina products with great success.


The Iams Company discovered a problem in one of their manufacturing facilities back in July. Their response was to rapidly get the word out and recall the products that were produced there. To date, I don't believe that any dogs got sick from due to the problem that cropped up in that facility.


Contrast that with Blue Buffalo. The Veterinary Profession noticed a substantial number of clients with sick animals all with similar symptoms. Blue Buffalo was oblivious to a major problem in their products. What were the results of their long term feeding trials? Oh, that's right, they don't do long term feeding trials. They let their customers animals serve as guinea pigs for their products.
 

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What the statement said was the supplier produced a Vitamin E supplement immediately prior to producing the a component of the Blue food. Have you ever seen industrial food making facilities? They can and do use the same machines to make a variety of things. Food makers (human and dog) also blend ingredients from different suppliers to make a product. Recently I was on a beer tasting and the hops are prepared and pelletized and delivered in giant bags by an outside supplier, these hops then go into the beer being made. In the case at hand, apparently they are not supposed to produce Blue's needed ingredient right after they make whatever E supplement they make (probably unrelated to Blue food ingredients) because they said it was a scheduling error at the supplier. therefore the Vitamin E from the supplier's previous production run when they made the E supplement tainted the Blue food ingredient.

Sucks, but perfectly understandable. It was an error in scheduling. Glad they fixed it.
I agree, Pete. It is definitely an unfortunate mistake but they have done the recall and have corrected the problem. That doesn't diminish the quality of their product. There are many, many dogs who have had great success on this product. As is with any product, if it does not work for you, you shouldn't use it. If it does, continue with the success you have experienced.
 

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What the statement said was the supplier produced a Vitamin E supplement immediately prior to producing the a component of the Blue food. Have you ever seen industrial food making facilities? They can and do use the same machines to make a variety of things. Food makers (human and dog) also blend ingredients from different suppliers to make a product. Recently I was on a beer tasting and the hops are prepared and pelletized and delivered in giant bags by an outside supplier, these hops then go into the beer being made. In the case at hand, apparently they are not supposed to produce Blue's needed ingredient right after they make whatever E supplement they make (probably unrelated to Blue food ingredients) because they said it was a scheduling error at the supplier. therefore the Vitamin E from the supplier's previous production run when they made the E supplement tainted the Blue food ingredient.

Sucks, but perfectly understandable. It was an error in scheduling. Glad they fixed it.
I believe it's Vitamin D, not E.

And, my point is simply that Blue Buffalo doesn't make the food themselves on site. Premium dog food manufacturers are often cited as free from the problems that larger companies have because they're "holistic" (as Blue Buffalo claims to be in their materials).

I think people believe that they make the dog food entirely on their own site, out of fresh ingredients and that they're really different from larger manufacturers that don't claim to be "holistic." I encourage you to check out the "Why Blue" section of their site if you think I'm exaggerating. It's like all the pretty veggies on a bag of Beneful.

The reality is evidently that ingredients are being substantially processed offsite by an unnamed 3rd party (on contaminated equipment). So how are they different than any other big dog food manufacturer?

I'm not saying they're worse, just questioning whether they're any better.

And even before this, I was noticing a ton of times on the forum where dogs simply weren't doing well on this very expensive, highly touted, well-rated (by the wrong people) food.
 

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Contrast that with Blue Buffalo. The Veterinary Profession noticed a substantial number of clients with sick animals all with similar symptoms. Blue Buffalo was oblivious to a major problem in their products. What were the results of their long term feeding trials? Oh, that's right, they don't do long term feeding trials. They let their customers animals serve as guinea pigs for their products.
This is the heart of the issue, as far as I'm concerned.

Too many expensive foods are based on philosophies about dog nutrition rather than on hard evidence and extensive research. You pay more, and you may be getting less.

With a dozen confirmed cases of dogs sickened by their food, they finally recalled. I think the P&G salmonella recall is a nice contrast. Not one dog or person got sick before or after the recall.
 

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I don't think the problem is limited to just the three foods they recalled either. We have 9 month old puppy I'm fostering for rescue who has had excessive water intake, diarrhea, and now vomitting. She was being fed BB Large Breed PUPPY, it's not on the recall list but fits the symptoms they stated in the letter. She's at the vet this weekend for observation and medication, I won't be feeding her the BB any longer.
 

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interesting comment, mylissyk. I have a schnauzer here at the pet hotel who is eating a different formulation of the food and also showing the increased thirst/urination, loss of weight. He has Cushings so the owners/vet have attributed it to the Cushings, but I have to wonder.....
 

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The Veterinary Profession noticed a substantial number of clients with sick animals all with similar symptoms. Blue Buffalo was oblivious to a major problem in their products. What were the results of their long term feeding trials? Oh, that's right, they don't do long term feeding trials. They let their customers animals serve as guinea pigs for their products.
This is the heart of the issue, as far as I'm concerned.

Too many expensive foods are based on philosophies about dog nutrition rather than on hard evidence and extensive research. You pay more, and you may be getting less.

With a dozen confirmed cases of dogs sickened by their food, they finally recalled. I think the P&G salmonella recall is a nice contrast. Not one dog or person got sick before or after the recall.
Swamp, Tippy - I think you still have a misunderstanding as to what happened. The food is fine. It was tainted by an outside source. So it has nothing to do with long term feeding trials or extensive research. They KNOW too much Vitamin D is bad for dogs...it was a mistake. And unless I am mistaken, it was 12 dogs. How that possibly be considered "substantial" when there are some 77 million dogs in the US? I think it speaks volumes as to how much Blue DOES care and value their clients that they did a voluntary recall. I applaud them. Compare this response to Toyota or BP recently.

You seem to have another agenda in bashing Blue and maybe you are right and maybe you are wrong...but you shouldn't hijack the production scheduling mishap and subsequent recall to make your point.

Can I ask what food you both recommend? Thanks.
 

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interesting comment, mylissyk. I have a schnauzer here at the pet hotel who is eating a different formulation of the food and also showing the increased thirst/urination, loss of weight. He has Cushings so the owners/vet have attributed it to the Cushings, but I have to wonder.....
I wasn't the one that put the pup on BB, the first foster home she was in did and she came to me shortly after with the food. I decided months ago I didn't like all the reports from people here on the board about BB giving their dogs or puppies diarrhea, so I won't use it. Not to mention that over a year ago my son tried it with his dog and the dog had diarrhea from it.

If you can, it might be a good idea to mention to the Schnauzer's owners there is a recall and the multiple people here that have had trouble with it. I hope he does ok.
 

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It may have been 12 dogs reported to the company but how many dogs were not reported but are now sick. Not everyone has taken their dog to the vet. Some people will stop the food and put thier dog on hamburger & rice and maybe switch food or slowly start the food again. Never going to the vet or contacting the company.
I dont like that the company doesnt test the food. I know when Natural Balance had that big problem several years ago, they now do testing all the time on their food and that is how they have found a problem with salmonella and did a voluntary recall. And that was done before dogs got sick. My Beau was one of the dogs that got sick on the original recall and they offered to pay for any vet bills he might have gotten from it. But he didnt get any because I stopped the food and he was fine. So I still trust the company.
 

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I agree, Pete. It is definitely an unfortunate mistake but they have done the recall and have corrected the problem. That doesn't diminish the quality of their product. There are many, many dogs who have had great success on this product. As is with any product, if it does not work for you, you shouldn't use it. If it does, continue with the success you have experienced.

I agree. My three goldens have done very well on Blue Wilderness. They have had very good health (ages 4,3 and 2) and no upset stomachs whatsoever with this brand. I am not going to get into the politics of this; however, I will say from personal experience that their coats are beautiful and they are satisifed after eating it. We initially tried Innova and Fromms - those were good, as well. I did my own research and was advised by my trainer to check-out these products. She has an excellent background and has mentored me - particularly in nutrition. I feel comfortable with Blue - and yes, it is more expensive but that never influenced me one way or the other.
 

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Swamp, Tippy - I think you still have a misunderstanding as to what happened. The food is fine. It was tainted by an outside source. So it has nothing to do with long term feeding trials or extensive research. They KNOW too much Vitamin D is bad for dogs...it was a mistake. And unless I am mistaken, it was 12 dogs. How that possibly be considered "substantial" when there are some 77 million dogs in the US? I think it speaks volumes as to how much Blue DOES care and value their clients that they did a voluntary recall. I applaud them. Compare this response to Toyota or BP recently.

You seem to have another agenda in bashing Blue and maybe you are right and maybe you are wrong...but you shouldn't hijack the production scheduling mishap and subsequent recall to make your point.

Can I ask what food you both recommend? Thanks.
There's no misunderstanding. I just don't buy BB's explanation entirely because it contradicts what researchers initially found. They were unable to find any more vitamin D than normal in all the food samples they tested. That directly contradicts BB's claims. If all you read is the press release, then you might think we were confused. If you read about this issue from the beginning, you'd find some holes in the press release.

Also, I don't think it was a quick recall because the pattern was noticed days and days before the recall was made. Instead, they waited until well after the pattern was noticed and then blamed it on a supplier.

12 dogs have confirmed hypercalcemia and vitamin D toxicosis. Those things are very hard to diagnose or connect to the food. You can imagine that many, many more dogs may have some level of issues that are either below the threshold of a vet visit or that aren't being diagnosed properly.

And it wasn't tainted by some random "outside" source. Even if what BB is saying is 100% true, it was tainted by their supplier, which means that their quality control and food testing is inadequate. And their supplier's practices are really, really awful, if so much vitamin D residue could get into the unnamed mystery ingredient just because the equipment was used in the wrong order? Do they not clean it off?

The reason I'm going after them is nothing personal. I don't make or sell dog food and don't profit in any way when people choose the kinds of food I think are best (beyond the happiness of knowing dogs are healthy). I just think it's important for people to realize that when a company calls itself "holistic" or is highly rated by these ridiculous dog food websites, it doesn't make that company any different from the routinely reviled big companies (P&G/Iams, Nestle/Purina, Diamond, etc.).

I recommend Eukanuba LBP for GR puppies, and I feed Eukanuba Premium Performance to my dogs. I don't recommend the PP for all adult dogs since it could cause weight gain in dogs that aren't very active. However, I think there are many other kinds of food that are just as good as Eukanuba, so I don't recommend their particular foods so much as I recommend sound, evidence-based approaches to dog nutrition.
 
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