Karen B. London
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FDA Investigates Nutro Dog Food
Illnesses may be linked to food. UPDATED.
More questions about what's in the bowl.

[Editor's Note: ConsumerAffairs.com has reported that the FDA is denying reports of an investigation into Nutro, contradicting individuals who say they have been contacted about Nutro by FDA investigators, as well as others in the FDA. We'll keep following this story. Meanwhile, readers have posted some interesting comments including an inside perspective from someone who claims to be a former employee.]


There has long been talk that Nutro Dog Food may be responsible for illnesses in many dogs, but the company has denied these claims and maintained that their food is safe. It may be some time before the truth is sorted out, but we do now know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the company.

Food safety continues to be a huge issue for both people and our pets, and we must be cautious about everything we feed our dogs. It may be a long time before we know whether or not Nutro Dog Food is causing these problems, but the fact that an investigation is underway to determine the truth is a good thing.


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.


CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Stephen | August 17 2011 |

I have two 5 year old maltese dogs and have always fed them Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult food. Back in June, one of my boys, Benny, became very ill. He had very bad bloody diarrhea, vomiting yellow foamy bile every couple of hours. I rushed him to the vet and they put him on a IV for 3 days ($1700) and he almost died. They could not pinpoint anything exactly except for the food. They switched him to Science Diet prescription food and he had a full recovery.

Anyways, a couple of days ago my other maltese, Leo, who never had any problems with the Nutro food started having the same problems but not as severe. The vet said he may had just had a stomach virus and to keep him off food for 24 hours. He seems to be doing better today. Being that I have fed them
Nurto for 5 years, I couldn't believe that the food could be causing their troubles.

Yesterday, Benny the first sick Maltese got into Leo's Nutro food instead of his prescription food and now he is experiencing the same exact conditions as before. I am currently transitioning Leo off the Nutro food with a little of Benny's Science Diet prescription food until I can find a good alternative food.

After hours of researching problems associated with this food, I see that many many other pets are experiencing the same exact type of reactions from this food recently. It seems as though Nutro has changed something about their recipe. It may not be the food but it's concerning that taking them off the food makes their symptoms go away.

If anyone knows of a good natural food alternative for little maltese dogs, please comment? Vets these days seem so crooked to me and only want to sell you their food onsite.

Good luck all!!!

Submitted by Anonymous | August 28 2011 |

I have fed my dogs Nutro for over 5 years without incident except for one bag of small kibble lamb and rice. They all refused to eat it. I assumed that something had happened at the factory or in storage as it never happened again. But it is worrisome that somewhere along the line, quality control failed.

Submitted by Barry Disbrow | September 17 2011 |

For the last 10 years, I have been feeding Nutro to my dogs and cats. I have two 13 year old cats, one 12 year old cat and a twelve year old dog who still are doing well for seniors. My 12 year old Keeshond mix has a very beautiful glossy coat and a high energy level. My 13 year old male cat as a very young cat had a life threatening case of urinary tract crystals as a young cat. After being on Nutro for most of his life since then, he has had no problems.

I suppose that perhaps some dogs could be allergic to something in Nutro or else that some cases may have been simple coincidences. It is also possible that a sudden change in diet could spark some problems as it is generally better to gradually transition an animal form one brand to another rather than make an abrupt change. I have been giving my pets Nutro for about 10 years now and have no plans to mess with success.

Submitted by Kelly | October 4 2011 |

My schnauzers consume their food no problem...they have eaten nurto natural lamb and rice small bites food since we got them 5 and 3 yrs ago. For some reason 1 of them (3 yr old) is NOT interested in the kibble he will eat literally anything else but the kibble. His time in the yard is successful so I know he doesnt seem to have a block i am wondering if this is a bad batch of food?

Submitted by Dr. B | October 30 2011 |

Has Nutro changed the ingredients in the large breed lamb and rice kibbles dog food recently?

Just after Nutro changed their packaging and the kibble size of the lamb and rice dog food, my dog has started eating dirt!

He has been on Nutro lamb and rice for 7years and never experienced something negative.

My view is that something has changed and I am guessing that it has to do with a change of manufacturer / vendor by Nutro. Could someone please explain or clarify why fewer people trust Nutro today than they did 5 years ago?

Submitted by Anonymous | November 8 2011 |

My dog recently got sick - don't know if it is from the kibble but he is not getting any better by eating it. I started a new bag right before he got sick. The kibble was extremely dark - like it was burnt. I am going to contact the company. Last year I bought a bag with red bits mixed in. The company said another type of kibble must have been mixed in at the factory, I sent it in so that they could analyze it but they never told me what it was. I may switch brands, however dog is 11 and has been on it his whole life.

Submitted by james cayanas | November 10 2011 |


my dog got sick also after eating from a new bag of nutro natural choice. exact situation as yours. she has been on nutro for a couple of years. then all of a sudden...sick with vomiting 7 diarrhea with the new bag. stopped feeding her the food because she was hospitalized and was taking special gi food, and all is well. I didnt put 2 and 2 together until it happened again two weeks later with the same food. something is wrong with their practices or production, shipping, etc.


Submitted by Ryan | December 1 2011 |

RACHEL RAY NUTRISH BRANDS - AVOID this dog food. Both my dogs got sick from this brand. Yes we made a gradual change. My dog was so ill we had to throw out his kennel, blankets and pillow as well as several toys. In over 25 years I have never had a dog react so badly to a dog food. DON’T FEED YOUR LOVED PET THIS FOOD!

Submitted by NM Dog Owner | May 19 2012 |

My dogs got sick too! Two of three dogs had to go to the veterinarian hospital for treatment. Went to dogfoodadvisor.com for nutitional info., etc. Found that it was poorly rated and might have some questionable ingredients. Beware buyer... just don't do it! Buy a brand that has been well reviewed. I'll always research anything I put in my pets' mouths, just like I've always done for the humans in my family!

Submitted by Lisa B | January 19 2012 |

WOW! Started noticing changes in my large breed dogs eating and behavior within last month or so...I'm VERY careful what I feed my dogs as one of them suffers from pancreatitus flare ups and keep diet very simple and NEVER stray from it. First, it's cold and Winter temps and they started drinking a ton of water having to fill up two very large water bowls several times daily like if it were summer and hot temps. Second, they all 3 started sleeping ALL day long like they weren't feeling well and started not wanting to eat, sometimes leaving a full bowl the entire day only nibbling on it because they got so hungry and finally there was AWFUL gas, beyond normal and finally some gagging but no vomiting that I noticed, but the feeling like they wanted too. One of my dogs, who is about 1 year old, was not as active/playful and became clingy and even felt feverish. Used Large Breed Natural Choice and Senior switched to Max Large Breed and Senior. Kibbles did seem to be different color and smell. Normally I would gradually switch dog food, but from these symptoms and others complaints I stopped using immediately and hope it was soon enough.

Submitted by lee | July 16 2012 |

Just recieved samples of rachel ray nutrisse dog food.
That night my 2 year old pug had to be rushed to the vet for passing out after vomiting. That is the only thing that was new in our routine and it was a gastric attack.....be safe rather than sorry...avoid this product

Submitted by Lauren-Newport ... | November 25 2012 |

My chihuahua has been eating Nutro Lamb and Rice small bites for the past 4 years. Nutro recently changed its packaging. When I was at Petco to purchase the dog kibble, the Petco representative assured me the kibble was the same, only the packaging changed. Approximately 2 weeks ago my chihuahua suddenly had difficulty breathing. She then could barely walk or stand up. We all thought she was going to die. She had 3 visits to the vet's office, and I was prepared to take her to an internist as my final hope.

Last night, we realized she would become dizzy and congested when she would eat her kibble. Last night, we only fed her hamburger meat. One day later, the dog we thought would not make it one more day, is recovered, wagging her tail, and trotting around like nothing happened. I am not much of an internet research person. However, this afternoon I went online to find out if other people have had problems with the Nutro brand dog food. I am horrified to discover other dogs have had major health issues with the food.

I presently have 5 rescued pets. From now on, I will research pet food before purchasing. Good bye Nutro.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 24 2013 |

Has anyone's dog had problems with Nutro's new Nutritional Essentials formulation for senior dogs? Our dog seems to have increasingly soft, frequent stools.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 24 2013 |

I bought a bag of Nutro Max, chicken and rice on 1/23/13, My dog the next day his pooh change complete from hard good pooh to yellow soft pooh, next day he didn't want to eat, he drank a full container of water, and he is not active like always and he only eater ones. I have another dog she is sick she have cancer and with out me knowing she was eating the food, not even 3 hours later she vomiting and she was very blooding and peeing a lot, it is incredible how I see so many complaints about this food and still in the market thank God I saw the change in my dog and I search for information about this food. How sad it is how long they going to wait to do something about this. I hope nothing happen to my dogs.

Submitted by Missy from Calg... | January 26 2013 |

I am currently sitting next to my dog whose been vomiting for a week now, unable to keep rice/hamburger and water down. We have had 2 emergency visits to the vet to have fluids administered, along with bloodwork for pancreatitis and inconclusive xrays. Hes a 160 pounds american bulldog and he managed to make it 1/4 way thru this bag of dog food. Ive noticed since the package upgrade, hes been weird with his food. Some days he would sit by his bowl 4-5 times wanting more food and other days he wouldnt touch his food. After doing A LOT of online reading searching for some miracle, I've tried pepto bismol, pedialyte, laxative, down to hand feeding bread dipped in beef broth. Nothing seems to be working. He's 8 years old and my best friend, so I am reluctant to put him down especially when hes still trying to eat the mailman (I think its the way he carries the mail) and wagging his tail. Though hes not in any pain or distress, Im utterly hurt.

Submitted by Kimmy | February 2 2013 |

I'm sorry, I don't have any advice but my heart goes out to you, it's so hard to see our dogs suffering like that. : (

Submitted by Anonymous | February 13 2013 |

have the vet check for thrombocytopenia... low platelettes... don't want to feed anything with ethoxyquin, BHA or BHT... prednisone helped our dog for years - -

Submitted by Anonymous | February 6 2013 |

I am feeding large breed Nutro puppy food and the Venison to my other dogs. My puppy is drinking like crazy and her urine smells like iron. Her anal area is smelling now too. Very "fishy" smelling. She already went and was put on antibiotics for a bladder infection which now I don't believe she had. She is only 11 weeks old. I will not lose her or my other guy's. My 2 year old Cock-a-Poo is vomiting on the Venison. This really bites!! What can we feed our babies if we can't trust a company like Nutro??

Submitted by Amanda D. | February 10 2013 |

I feed my dog Nutro Ultra Weight Management and she seems to love it. She is a 4 year old Beagle/Basset Hound mix. I haven't seen any changes in her behavior but now I am aware of the Nutro brand. Should I switch her food or is it just a select few of the Nutro products that seem to be recalled?

Submitted by Anonymous | February 15 2013 |

Please check consumer affairs. Complaints thru the roof since the new formula NUTRO in 2012 with all the same symptoms and once animals are off the food, they are miraculously not sick anymore. That tells me it is the food. We lost our 10yr old and our puppy started to vomit blood days later. They had a new bag of NUTRO formula for 4-6days. Once we took the puppy off of NUTRO and had her on IV for 2 days, then moved to organic diet- no more issues. Nutro tested our food but won't share the results. They had their insurer, Liberty mutual contact us and they asked questions like, "Do you store your food near household chemicals?" Huh---we bought a pet plastic sealed container from PETSMART and we keep it clean (no bacteria). They sent a letter stating "if our vet believed Nutro was the cause, they could consider our claim". No vet can say for sure it was the food. They would be liable of slander without testing the food. Nutro knows the truth. Now other will 2. We contacted our local news affiliate and hope to air soon. Others are 2-in San Antonio and Tucson. Check out my FB page for more links and info "RECALL NEW FORMULA NUTRO"

Submitted by Elizabeth | February 26 2013 |


My dogs have eaten Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice for most of their adult lives. We were with my 7 year old, healthy Golden Retriever, all day and she was healthy and perky. Today we opened a new bag of Nutro. She ate her dinner at about 6:15. At about 7:20, we offered her a dog treat and she refused to eat it. She had never, ever refused food before. We were very concerned. She was lethargic and in pain but her nose was wet and her gums were pink and dark.
At 8:45, she vomited a huge pile of dog food covered in a thick, mucus filled bile.
She fell down and would not get up. I thought vomiting would bring her relief. She was quiet. We moved her onto her bed, covered with towels.
At 9:35, she began to howl in pain. We had never heard this noise.
I called my vet to consult about taking her to the emergency room at 9:40. We decided to take her.
I called the ER at 9:45, to tell them we were coming.
She had a major seizure and lost consciousness.
We rushed her to the Animal HOspital and arrived at 9:59, hoping they could help her. But they told us she was dead.
I cannot describe the pain. I will miss her forever.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 15 2013 |

I currtently live with my brother who has a Rot. This dog is not a dog he is a family memember. Dawkinks recently had surgery on a fatty tumor that became a concern for my brother. within 5 weeks he went from fine to loosing all ability to use his legs. vomiting, depressed and just unable to move. He has been to the vet 6x they have ran every test known! this morning something wasnt right when i got to work i immediately called my brother and told him i thought dawkins was gasping for air. he rushed home to find him un responsive. breathing but nothing else barely hanging on. The vet kept him and told my brother to go home for a little to try and rest. We literally just recieved a call all test NORMAL but that they think he has been poisoned!!! he also happens to be on Nutro! i have been googling since and came acrossed your story. my heart bleeds for you. I will raise holy hell if anything happens to this dog! he is 5 he still has miliage!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous | February 28 2013 |

I tried this food last year on four of my dogs. One is a Shih tzu one is a Maltese and one a Chihuahua and another Shih tzu from another liter they all have their own bowls which are soap cleaned imediately after eating to be kept clean and dry from bacteria. These four dogs of mine all got ill, all had stomach aches and diarreah and so on. I sincerely feel this Nutro for small dogs got them this way for 5 years this never had happened untill I switched to Nutro, something is not right with this food, research it more. CAUTION! One of my dogs had very bad smelly poop. And yes all their shots are current Vet checks and all the right stuff. They never eat from the same area as they are small I feed them separately. O, weel for what it worth be carefull.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 28 2013 |

When my german shep. puppy was a few weeks old, the breeder started here on the nutro brand (since there had been a recall of a different brand that she normally used). I continued to give her that brand since I didn't want to upset her stomach. She was on the nutro natural puppy food for about 6 months when the vet had me switch to the adult formula since she was growing so quickly. I decided to keep her with the nutro natural since she had been ok. So, I transitioned her to the Large Breed Adult Chicken, Whole Brown Rice & Oatmeal Formula (royal blue bag with a german shep. on the front of the bag). This were going fine for about 6 months (we go through about 1 large bag per month). Then when I bought a bag around Nov/Dec (I bought the same exact food, from the same pet store)... things changed. At first she didn't have much of an appetite first thing in the morning. Eventually, she would eat only when she became hungry enough. That was quite strange. Around the same time, she also began to itch her skin a lot and a small bump appeared on her foot. I didn't think too much about it...I thought the itching could be a winter issue and I was going to monitor her appetite for a few weeks. Fortunately she didn't have bowel issues. When it was time to get another bag, I bought the same exact thing again. This time her appetite was immediately back to normal and the itching began to subside. I wasn't entirely convince yet that it was definitely the food. Then when it was time for the next (3rd bag since first suspicious bag), we went right back to the same issue. The first day, she didn't want to even eat the food, itching picked up again, etc. I was now convinced it was the food. I immediately brought the food back to the store and switched brands. As soon as I put a bowl of the new (different) brand food down, she ate it right up. I took the dog to the vet and they checked her out. They are confident that the itching and appetite was due to a food reaction. As a result of her exam, she ended up on antibiotics to combat reaction. When all was said and done, I ended up with a $300+ vet bill thanks to Nutro. Fortunately, my dog did not become severely ill like other dogs, but I will NEVER buy another NUTRO product for my pet. I searched around and I can't beleive there wasn't a recall by the manufacturer on their products. VERY DISAPPOINTING!

Submitted by Crystal | March 10 2013 |

Our 2 year old (Palm, poodle, shitzu) dog became ill after being on Nutro for about 1 month. He started vomiting and had bloody diarrhea. He can be picky about food so I bought the pink bag, for Adult Toy dogs, which claimed to taste great. He actually did like the taste of it. Anyway getting back to him being ill, we rushed him to an animal hospital and he was diagnosed with Hemorrhagic GastroEnteritis (HGE). I can't say 100% that this food was the cause, but after reading about so many complaints and studies of various dogs in different places, which all were on Nutro, he will never eat it again. See article below concerning an FDA investigation on Nutro. He's been home from the hospital for about 1 day and still won't eat. He's still healing from this and we are concerned that he won't eat.


Submitted by Anonymous | March 10 2013 |

I have a schnauzier who just turned 1 year old. I began feeding him Nutro for puppies when we visited my aunt who fed her adult papillon Nutro. The pieces were very small which made it easy for my dog to digest. My dog loved the Nutro and refused to eat any other brand. I switched from the puppy formula to the adult formula a week after he turned one year old and it has been scary. He vomited once or twice, but it was such a small amount, but he then began to have severe diarrhea and constant smelly gas. I know that it is the food. I really believe that I switched from puppy to adult formula too soon. The adult formula is not the small pieces that he is use to. He is still playful and isn't acting sickly. I have been giving him nothing but water to prevent him from becoming dehydrated. After reading everyone's post, I have decided to only give him water for 24 hours and then try going back to the puppy formula to see how he reacts.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 27 2013 |

I fed Nutro about ten yes ago until a friend's daughter worked for them as an intern - she told me then that they were being investigated for problems - vets were reporting that dogs on the large breed formula were dying younger than normal. I stopped feeding Nutro then and glad I did. This is an on-going problem for the company and it seems they haven't fixed it.

Submitted by Regan Kireilis Helms | May 8 2013 |

Oh my God, my dog is dying and I have been poisoning him with Nutro for the last 5 years. He has many of the same symptoms described in the comments here. Diabetes symptoms, Cushing's symptoms, his eyes have now ruptured. Thanks Nutro, for lying to all of your loyal customers over the years for a buck and murdering their beloved pets. I am heart-broken.

Submitted by PN | May 8 2013 |

My dog got very sick eating Nutro Natural Choice food in early 2013, as did thousands of other dogs across North America. Nutro has denied, denied and denied some more. My dog became very ill shortly after starting on this food and began to get better immediately after stopping to eat it. Nutro gets its ingredients from China indirectly (I think through a company in New Zealand). DO NOT BUY THIS BRAND. There have been problems with it dating back more than five years - year after year, problem after problem but no one stops this company and people still keep buying it's products.

Submitted by theresa | May 9 2013 |

I have 3 dogs that I was buying science diet the all natural .they changed the formula which I called the company and verified ! my dogs were throwing up and had diahhrea ! we switched to nutro venison and rice 60.00 a bag and after almost a week my dogs are throwing up again ! this food is so expensive and we thought it had to be better if you pay more ! I do not know what to feed these dogs anymore . these dog food companies are putting profit before a good quality dog food !!! what kind of dog food is safe ???

Submitted by Abe Gold | May 10 2013 |

I used NUTRO Lamb and Rice formula for 7 years. For 2012 the formula was changed late in the year, after 3 price increases. 1 cup killed my 60 pound pit mix who had never been ill. Gypsy was 4 1/2 years old and died a very painful death. She was the friendliest of dogs. The NEW & IMPROVED formula is the problem. It contains green tea oxilates which is toxic to dogs, not most humans. The FDA has issued a voluntary recall but that does nothing. News medials are not covering the story and many veterniarians will lie to you about food being the cause of a pet's illness as they profit from expensive treatments that do nothing but torture your pet. Their incomes and educations are subsidised by pet food companies. If you call the NUTRO Company they will tell you yours is the first complaint and deny the existance of the FDA recall. A class action lawsuit may be the only way to stop them from selling poison.

Submitted by bob | May 12 2013 |

My two dogs within 3 months of each other. Both of cancer. 7 y/o standard poodle with lymphoma. 12 y/o rat terrier with cutaneous lymphoma. Both were on Nute Ultra for about one year. Buyer, and eater beware!!!

Submitted by DDLASQUADE | July 12 2013 |

That is such a lie my dog died from your poisinus garbage im angry isn't the word im livid and have started getting testimonials from everyone who has fed there precious 4 legged family members this poison and believe me there's a ton of angry people

Submitted by Kortni | August 7 2013 |

Please do not feed your dogs Nutro. Only 2 months after changing her food over, her calcium levels increased to dangerous levels. She started throwing up, increased water consumption, urinating a lot, and then all together wouldn't eat. I took her in to the vet and they couldn't figure out what was wrong with her except that elevated calcium. After every test under the sun, I found out she has lymphoma last week. She is only 5 years old and has been healthy her entire life. Regular vet visits, blood work ups, and has never had a problem until I started feeding her Nutro. You never know in life what curve balls you will be thrown and yes, maybe it could be the hand she was dealt, but just a VERY crazy coincidence. After reading all these testimonies, my heart goes out to all of you. We are in chemo right now and fighting like rockstars:) Please be aware of what you are feeding your pets!!!!

Submitted by Minnette | August 30 2013 |

I recenlty purchased Nutro Ultra Small breed Puppy Saturday, Aug. 24. I have a litter 3, Yorkies 5 months old. The first on died Monday, August 26, the Second, August 27 and the last one August, 30, 2013. I am so hurt and angry. My puppies were very healthy prior to me purchasing this food Saturday. They started throwing up, then diarrhea, then blood in their stool, until death. dehydration set in, mouth was slimy, then weird breathing sounds until death. Killed them in 2 days of consuming. High vet bills, that couldn't do anything... The people responsible will pay dearly for this madness and wickedness..


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