Federal officials are warning consumers and veterinarians to be on alert for potentially deadly hyperthyroidism in dogs that have eaten Blue Buffalo Co. and WellPet food.
The three separate alerts, posted Monday by the Food and Drug Administration, include test results from three dogs and samples of “BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs” and/or “Wellness 95% Beef Topper for Dogs.”
Investigators are sure the source of the active thyroid hormone in the food is from animal gullets — laryngeal tissue — in which the thyroid glands were not completely removed. However, suppliers or ingredient sources have were not disclosed in the FDA alert. The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits the use of thyroid glands and laryngeal muscle tissue for human food.
Some flavors and lots of the two dog food brands are under recall, but there is concern that pet owners, veterinarians and other businesses may still have the dog foods in homes and elsewhere.
“The FDA is issuing this alert now after a recent Center for Veterinary Medicine investigation into reports of three dogs in different households that showed signs of hyperthyroidism. In these cases, extensive testing on all three dogs conducted at a reference laboratory showed elevated thyroid hormone in the blood, but ruled out thyroid cancer,” according to the FDA alert.
“After the dogs stopped eating these products for a few weeks, their clinical signs disappeared and thyroid hormone levels returned to normal.”
If your dog has eaten either of these foods and is showing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, discontinue feeding of these foods and consult your veterinarian, making sure to provide your dog’s dietary history, including what the dog has been eating, how much, and for how long, the FDA recommended.
Is it on your shelf?
Consumers who have any of the recalled food should not feed it to their animals and can refer to the company press releases for further instructions about returns/refunds.
WellPet voluntarily recalled of certain lots of 13.2-ounce cans of Wellness 95% Beef Topper for Dogs with best-by dates of 02 FEB 19, 29 AUG 19, and 30 AUG 19 printed on the bottom of the can. The UPC Code is 076344894506.
Blue Buffalo Company voluntarily recalled of one lot of 12.5-ounce cans of BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe TM Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs with a best-by date of June 7, 2019, printed on the bottom of the can. The UPC code is 840243101153.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, increased appetite, restlessness, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, rapid and/or labored breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Continued exposure to excess thyroid hormones can cause damage to the heart and in some cases, death.
Case information for veterinarians
Three dogs of different ages, sexes, and breeds, including a 4-year-old Shetland sheepdog, 8-year-old Tibetan terrier, and 15-year-old Labrador retriever, presented with various clinical signs of hyperthyroidism such as increased thirst, increased urination, restless behavior and weight loss, according to the FDA alert for veterinarians.
Given the limited number of reported cases, there may be a spectrum of possible results in the thyroid panel that could be associated with consumption of dog food containing thyroid hormones.
Recommendations for pet food industry
If a thyroid gland is not completely removed from a gullet and that gullet is then added to pet food or treats, remnant thyroid tissue could be a source of thyroid hormones. One way to be certain that there are no traces of thyroid in pet food is to avoid the use of livestock gullets, according to the FDA’s industry alert.
Suppliers can ensure that they have fully removed thyroid glands from gullets before providing them to manufacturers. The FDA recommends consulting industry trade organizations, such as the Pet Food Institute or the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for best practices and advice.
Manufacturers should carefully assess their suppliers’ practices and take steps to ensure that they are receiving raw materials and ingredients that do not contain thyroid hormone secreting tissue. If you suspect that there is a problem with your product or supply, the best course of action is to assess your products and practices, consulting the FDA as needed.
Consumers, veterinarians and industry can report pet food complaints to the FDA by clicking here.
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