Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nutro News

On April 18th, Lisa Wade McCormick of published an article titled "String of Illnesses Afflicts NUTRO-Fed Pets" The subtitle of the article was "Company insists its food is '100% safe' ."

After reading the article, I decided to do some checking of my own. First, I searched the FDAs Center for Veterinary Medicine site for any indication of a safety alert. There was none. Nor was there any information on the Nutro web site. Then, I emailed and asked what supporting information they could provide me in addition to the complaints listed on their web site. They never answered.

My next step was to post a query on two Labradoodle boards where I'm a regular lurker and occasional contributor. I asked fellow posters to advise me of any issues they've had recently with Nutro products. I solicited both positive and negative comments.

Four people contacted me by email. An additional 15-18 people replied directly on the discussion boards. Here's a summary of the problems:
  • Joy said, "Zorro vomited a couple of times again today. So that's almost every day since I fed that to him. But still its hard to be sure to attribute it to that. He's not vomiting a lot or often & its bile & grass today. So I don't know what to think . Everyone else is fine."
  • Kim said, "I put my new foster dog Murray on Nutro MAX chicken and rice because he didn't like my Brand X dog food. Neither did Curly Sue so she also got Nutro MAX. I didn't notice any change in her, but Murray was barfing yesterday all over my back seat and then he had diarrhea last night. Hmmm. Could be the food. I had Murray driving with me a lot yesterday and then we went to the vet, so I thought he was probably car sick. Curly Sue did have a bout withthe big D for a little while. But I started mixing her food with my other food and she seemed to be ok."
  • Barb said, " I saw your post and had heard earlier of other people having the same problem I had. I have a 4 month old labradoodle....I started her on Nutro Natural Choice small bites chicken rice and oatmeal...She had very loose stools. I was concerned about how much nutrition she was getting. She had no problems health wise the vet suggested we try a different dog food. I went to a pet store and got samples of Innova, Merrick and Canidae. She didn't like Merrick but did like Innova and Canidae, I have her on Innova Puppy Food and she isn't having any problems...She started gaining weight."
  • Stacey said, "I bought a new bag of Nutro about two weeks ago. Since then, both my doodles have developed loose stools ... Here's the pertinent information from the new bag: Nutro Natural Choice Lamb Meal and Rice 44 pound bag (40# bag +10% extra) Expiry: July 2009 Lot#? 15:41 2 BY4 SE."
Most of the people who posted said that they were not having any problems with Nutro, except for difficulty in finding some of the varieties.

Interestingly, Nutro is just one of several pet foods about which complaints have been lodged with Alpo, CANIDAE, Hills, Iams, Ol Roy, Natural Balance, Purina and Science Diet were also the subject of consumer complaints. Some of the complaints relate to last year's melamine contamination; others are more current. Symptoms range from gastrointestinal, to urinary tract, to seizures, to allergies. None of the complaints are documented by lab tests. I would estimate that there are probably as many Nutro complaints as there are for all the other pet foods combined.

A food poisoning blog maintained by the "victim's rights" legal firm Parker & Waichman, LLP, has already picked up on the Nutro issue, with an article titled "NUTRO Pet Food Causing Food Poisoning?" The content of the blog suggests that its author has taken the report at face value.

Ms. McCormick was careful to point out in her article that the simple act of switching dog foods can cause temporary gastrointestinal upsets, and that some dogs are naturally sensitive to certain ingredients. Without a proper epidemiological evaluation or lab testing to confirm a problem, it's irresponsible to conclude that one exists.

If you have fed your pet any Nutro products in the last six months, I encourage you to post your experiences – positive or negative – as comments to this article.


  1. Both my dogs and my cats eat Nutro brand and have for over a year now. The two older dogs have been fine, but the younger dog sometimes gets an upset stomach and won't eat. I thought he was sneaking the older dogs' food (they're on senior food) but now I'm wondering. I'm going to try him on a different brand and see what happens. The cats have had no problems.


  3. Dear Sara and Anonymous,

    Please report these incidents to FDA by calling the complaint coordinator for your area. You can find the list of phone numbers at

    By making a formal report, you might help other dog and cat owners.

    Most food safety problems are uncovered as a result of illness reports and consumer complaints.


  4. I have 2 sisters that are 2 years old, had been having intermittent occurences (about every other week) of 1 day of upset tummies, no appetite, explosive bloody diarrhea. Had them to the vet, tests, put them on cottage cheese and rice for about a week, then slowly started adding their nutro natural choice back, then it started up again, read the articles on the consumer affairs website, saw the words esplosive bloody diarrhea, the hair on the back of my neck stood up!!!
    Have taken them off nutro, slowly introduced California natural, so far so good, about 2 weeks now.


  5. I had my 2 Jack Russell terriers on Nutro Max mini Chunk for about 2.5 years. Everything was fine until the new bag design came out in the spring. Both had severe diarrhea, vomiting, accidents in the house, weight loss. Took them to the vet. Lost the female right after the visit to acute renal failure. The male is doing Ok so far, but he has an appointment for blood work tomorrow. If you look at the consumer reports website under "Nutro complaints", you'll see how many people have been affected by this dog food. I currently have food at an independent lab in Texas being tested and slides from my dog's autopsy being looked at by a pathologist in Georgia. I called Nutro when all this started and they couldn't even be bothered to take a report. Then I got an email from them asking for ALL the food I had left to be tested. I contacted a lawyer at that point. Will keep you posted- results are due in the next 2 weeks.

  6. Please keep us posted on the lab results. Also, I strongly urge you to contact the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine directly with the results of your lab tests. You can find the pet food complaint contact information at

    FDA can't act unless it is told of the problem.


  7. Does anyone know anything about Nutro declaring that they have "production problems" and can't resupply Nutro Natural Choice Lamb Meal and Rice dog food? That is what the posted sign by the empty shelf space and two sales people said today at Pet Supply Plus. My two poodles have seemed to thrive happily on it for a few years. I bought a small bag of the "small bites" to tide them over. However, I found your site just now when trying to research the problem, and I wonder if I should try to find another option. Do any of you have facts about this "production problem"? Thanks.

  8. Hi Janet,

    I haven't seen anything about Nutro production problems. I found a recent statement on the Nutro web site that talks about zinc and copper levels in the Natural Choice products. Here's a link to the page:

    I should point out that Nutro is now owned by Mars Petcare, the same company that makes Pedigree. Nutro is manufactured in a different plant, though, and is not part of the Pedigree recall.

    I'll keep my eyes open and post any new info I uncover.

  9. I switched to Nutro Natural for my cat less than two weeks ago, and she has vomited four times. She never got sick when switching her food in the past. I switched to Nutro after looking up information for my Aunt on why her cat got so sick all the sudden, with vomiting, diarrhea, and becoming lethargic. I saw great things about Nutro, and decided to give it a try. I told my Aunt about it, thinking she should try it for her cat. Yeah, well, that's what her cat has been eating, for nine months! She took him to the vet, spent almost $2,000, and they could not figure out what was wrong with him. It's no coincedence that both of our cats became ill around the same time after eating the same brand food! I have contacted the FDA and gave them the information. I already lost a beautiful, precious kitty because of the Menu foods recall, and I refuse to lose another! Even if your pet has done well, it may be a batch that is out now, so be careful!

  10. we have three dogs. all three became sick in may of 2008. had it not been for the postings on the consumer affairs site, we would have never known to change our dogs' food from the nutro they had been on for years.
    like so many others, we were loyal nutro customers and never suspected that the food we paid extra for to insure our beloved pets received a quality product would be killing our dogs.
    like so many others, initially, the lab results came back negative. but, this is not uncommon in the animal world. typically, animals will "hide" their illness as a way of self-preservation.
    in september, after going through exhausting battery of tests and having to watch as our bouvier became worse, she was finally diagnosed with an auto-immune triggered form of lymphoma.
    and,now, our giant schnauzer has been diagnosed with atypical addison's (again, triggered by an auto-immune response) as well as a rare tumor which has caused vestibular seizures. our other dog is now being tested for cushings vs addison's. each dog was a different age, each a different breed...the only thing they held in common was the nutro food.

    i would like those who would rather believe nutro than the "rantings" of what nutro has called "isolated" incidences to think logically. financially, nutro has everything to lose by admitting wrong doing. we only want you to have a healthy pet and to not have to suffer what we have gone through...the death of one dog and the serious illness of two remaining dogs.
    think of the logic. nutro would like you to believe that gastritis is a common occurrence when a pet changes food. our pets were on nutro for years. our dogs got better once we took them off of nutro. placing them on a new food should have caused gastritis (if you use nutro's line of thinking) but, instead, placing our dogs on a different food helped. placing them back on to any other form of nutro cereal made them even worse than before! it was the nutro that triggered their other food we tried had this response!
    if you are a doubting thomas and would really want to trust nutro, the company now run/owned by MARS, the same manufacturer of food which was recalled due to salmonella poisoning....if you really want to see some abnormal lab result, i will be more than happy to forward you the results of our dead bouvier and our schnauzer.
    remember, addison's is a rare disease! what are the odds that our dogs would suffer from two auto-immune related diseases?

    uc davis conducted a study on the nutro found and did find contaminates. the fda is still investigating nutro (how do i know? because i contacted the fda after the death of our dog. the investigation remains "active"). the center for veterinary medicine has to be careful what they post or they can be sued.

    the question is, do you really feel lucky? do you really feel you can gamble on nutro being right and all of us being wrong? are you really willing to gamble the health and happiness of your pet on nutro's word especially when there are so many other good dog foods out there?!

    i don't know that a lawyer would make a class action law suite against a company like nutro unless they really felt they could win. interesting to note: there is now a class action law suite against, among others, nutro/MARS ( see "ntiwide-clss-acti-lwsuit-filed-against-pet-food

    please, learn from our mistakes. do not feed your dogs nutro!!!!

  11. My dog also became sick after eating Nutro for about 6 months. He suffered pancreatitis for months. That led to him not eating at all. We saw three different veterinarians to finally get a lymphoma diagnosis. He was so sick by that time that chemo was not an option and we had to put him down. He was only seven years old. I don't know if the Nutro gave him lymphoma, but possibly the pancreatitis?

  12. On 11 Mar 09, I lost one of my best friends, an appx 8 year old hound mix. Two days later I almost lost my other dog. Both dogs were lethargic, vomiting, had severe diarrhea, and the one that died experienced early stages of renal failure. My vets could not figure out the source of the problem and to this day attribute the illness/death to some underlying toxicity. The common theme with my 2 dogs is that I fed them both Nutro Natural Senior dog food. I still have some of the food remaining.

  13. Anonymous: I would strongly urge you to contact the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine ( and report this. Also, be sure to tell them that you have some of the food that you suspect to be the source of the problem. Give them as much info as possible, including any written report from your veterinarian. If you act quickly, you might save the lives of many other dogs.

    My deepest sympathy on the loss of your four-legged family member.


  14. Phyllis,

    I just called the FDA center for Veterinary Medicine. I also just learned that a friend of mine has a seriously ill dog, and she is also feeding Nutro. Thanks for your advice and words of sympathy.


  15. David,

    Please keep us posted, and please encourage your friend to report her experiences to CVM as well. I shall be posting an update on the Nutro story tonight or tomorrow.


  16. You said: "Then, I emailed and asked what supporting information they could provide me in addition to the complaints listed on their web site. They never answered."

    We have no record of your email. Our story speaks for itself. You can read the letter we received from the FDA and you can read of the conversation our reporter had with an FDA official who spoke on condition of anonymity. You don't expect us to give you her or his name, now do you? You might want to brush up on the basics of journalism before presenting yourself as a knowledgeable critic.

    You said: "I would estimate that there are probably as many Nutro complaints as there are for all the other pet foods combined."

    This is not even close to being factual. Here is what our database shows:

    Alpo 14 complaints
    Canidae 309 "
    Iams 41 "
    Menu 64 "
    Nutro 675 "
    Ol Roy 11 "
    Pedigree 32 "
    Purina 108 "
    Science Diet 11 "'s reporters and editors are experienced veterans with decades of experience. We have no axe to grind with any company or organization and simply try to report the facts as we are able to find them. We give precedence to issues about which we receive a lot of consumer complaints.

    James R. Hood
    Editor in chief

  17. James, I would suggest that you speak with Lisa McCormick. My statement that I didn't hear back from was just that - a statement of fact. When I stated that there were probably as many complaints on Nutro as on all the others combined, I wasn't far off the mark. Based on your numbers above, I tally 590 complaints on other pet food brands, versus 675 for Nutro. The sense of my statement was that there were an unusually high number of complaints about Nutro.

    James, I am ON YOUR SIDE on this. I have no axe to grind with, its reporters and its editors. I am very concerned that there may be a safety issue with Nutro pet foods, and I am trying to get to the bottom of it.

    Please read my follow-up article, posted April 22 ( If you wish to continue this discussion directly, Lisa McCormick has my email address.

    Phyllis Entis

  18. I used to work for Nutro as a pet nutrition specialist. Prior to that I had used Nutro pet food for years without an issue. It wasn't until MARS Pet Foods bought out Nutro that I started hearing complaints in the stores from customers, all were gastrointestinal and many stated their dogs were guzzling water and acting lethargic. I reported this to my area manager and was blown off by the comment "Just enforce the Nutro quality controls we do". Then one dog got sick, he was vomiting, guzzling water and wouldn't go for a walk and acted lethargic and not right. I couldn't figure it out because the others were okay but eventually they started guzzling water too and acting funny. Strange smelling diarrhea too. But I also attributed it to giardia. But after we switched foods, all symptoms cleared up within 48-72 hours. I also had a customer tell me about the Consumer Affairs website which I knew nothing about until she told me. She does greyhound rescue and one of her dogs was sickened. I went home that day read the complaints and my jaw hit the floor. A week later I went back to the same store and the manager of the store asked me what was going on with Nutro because a dog had died the night before eating Lamb and Rice Small Bites. I didn't know what to say. I was shocked but after reading all the posts since December of 2007 and January 2008 I was livid. We had a local sales meeting and all our concerns were blown off and held till the end of the meeting and not really addressed. I resigned that night and I do not regret it. I will not work for a company who is hiding something from the public. I still believe they are hiding. The cat food recall didn't surprise me either. I'm so sorry though for all the dogs and cats who were lost. What a horrible way to die. I'm so sorry I ever promoted this food to anyone.


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