Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for your dog’s health.

But like many other things in our lives, too much of a good thing can be bad. In fact, excessive levels of the “sunshine vitamin” for your dog can result in devastating health consequences – including death.

Although vitamin D toxicosis in dogs has been rare historically, it is suspected to be the primary cause of illness in a recent recall of dog food.

What happened?

On December 3rd, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted pet owners and veterinary professionals about recalls of several brands of dry dog foods after receiving complaints of dogs suffering from vitamin D toxicosis from eating the food.

The recalls started in early November when two companies, Natural Life Pet Products and Nutrisca, voluntarily recalled certain dry dog food formulas after receiving complaints of dogs becoming ill from vitamin D toxicity.

Both Nutrisca and Natural Life Pet Products confirmed that they discovered formulation errors in their products that resulted in high vitamin D levels.

After further investigation, the FDA expanded the recall to include seven more companies for a total of nine firms so far whose products share the same contract manufacturer.The agency is working with the manufacturer to provide a comprehensive list of affected products.

List of Affected Firms

The affected firms and recalled products so far are as follows:

  • Ahold Delhaize
    • Nature’s Promise Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food
      • UPC 068826718472 – 14 lb. bag
      • UPC 068826718471 – 28 lb. bag
      • UPC 068826718473 – 4 lb. bag
    • Nature’s Place Real Country Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food
      • UPC 72543998959 – 5 lb. bag
      • UPC 72543998960 – 15 lb. bag
  • Kroger
    • About Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dog Food
      • UPC 11110-83556 – 4 lb. bag
  • King Soopers
    • About Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dog Food
      • UPC 11110-83556 – 4 lb. bag
      • UPC 11110-83573 – 14 lb. bag
      • UPC 11110-89076 – 24 lb. bag
  • ELM Pet Foods, Inc.
    • ELM Chicken and Chickpea Recipe
      • UPC 0-80155-22507-8 – 3 lb. bag
        • D2 26 FEB 2019
        • TE1 30 APR 2019
        • TD1 5 SEP 2019
        • TD2 5 SEP 2019
      • UPC 0-70155-22513-9 – 28 lb. bag
        • TB3 6 APR 2019
        • TA1 2 JULY 2019
        • TI1 2 JULY 2019
    • ELM K9 Naturals Chicken Recipe
      • UPC 0-70155-22522-9 – 40 lb. bag
        • TB3 14 SEP 2019
        • TA2 22 SEP 2019
        • TB2 11 OCT 2019
  • ANF, Inc.
    • ANF Lamb and Rice Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 9097231622 – 3 kg. bag
        • Best by Nov. 23 2019
      • UPC 9097203300 – 7.5 kg bag
        • Best by Nov. 20 2019
  • Sunshine Mills, Inc.
    • Evolve Chicken & Rice Puppy Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-73657-00862-0 – 14 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-73657-00863-7 – 28lb. bag
    • Sportsman’s Pride Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-70155-10566-0 – 40 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-70155-10564-0 – 40 lb. bag
    • Triumph Chicken & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-73657-00873-6 – 3.5 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-73657-00874-3 – 16 lb. bag
      • UPC 0-73657-00875-0 – 30 lb. bag
  • Lidl (Orlando brand)
    • Orlando Grain-Free Chicken & Chickpea Superfood Recipe Dog Food
      • Lidl product number 215662
        • TI1 3 Mar 2019
        • TB2 21 Mar 2019
        • TB3 21 Mar 2019
        • TA2 19 Apr 2019
        • TB1 15 May 2019
        • TB2 15 May 2019
  • Natural Life Pet Products
    • Chicken & Potato Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 0-12344-08175-1 – 17.5 lb. bag
        • Best by dates range: Dec. 4, 2019 through Aug. 10, 2020
  • Nutrisca
    • Chicken and Chickpea Dry Dog Food
      • UPC 8-84244-12495-7 – 4 lb. bag
      • UPC 8-84244-12795-8 – 15 lb. bag
      • UPC 8-84244-12895-5 – 28 lb. bag
        • Best by dates range: Feb. 25, 2020 through Sep. 13, 2020

Why is excessive Vitamin-D bad for dogs?

FDA scientists and state and private labs found that samples of the recalled products contained as much as 70 times the intended amount of vitamin D.

But you may be wondering: Why is it so bad for dogs to have a lot of vitamin D?

Vitamin D elevates plasma calcium and phosphorous levels to support various functions in the body.

Not only is it good for bone mineralization and skeletal growth, but research indicates that it plays important roles in cancer prevention, immune system regulation, and cellular development.

The current AAFCO recommendation for daily vitamin D intake for dogs is 500 IU per kg of dry matter.

However, excessive vitamin D intake results in elevated levels of blood calcium, which in turn causes calcification of soft tissues. Calcification can affect joints, kidneys, pancreas, parathyroids, and arteries, among others.

Other common clinical symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite
  • increased thirst
  • vomiting
  • increased urination
  • excessive drooling
  • weight loss
  • renal dysfunction.

While dogs may tolerate high concentrations of vitamin D for a short period of time, prolonged intake at unsafe levels can result in kidney failure and death.

What should you do?

At this time, only dry dog foods appear to be affected.

If your dog is experiencing symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, discontinue feeding the food and contact your veterinarian immediately. The FDA also recommends that you take a picture of the food label, including the lot number.

You or your veterinarian can report suspected vitamin D toxicity to the FDA via the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.

You can also contact the company for information on how to dispose of the food properly or return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

For the most updated list of the recalled brands and/or formulas, check the FDA’s announcement regularly and take a look at our recalls section.

About the Author

Hyo Song, MSc.

Hyo loves dogs, plain and simple! She holds a Bachelors of Science in Biology, and a Masters in Molecular Targets and Drug Discovery; as well as a degree in Music. Loves spending time with her beautiful 11-yr old Siberian Husky named Hero, has been featured in several scientific publications and is active in providing help to dogs in need.

Read More Posts By: Hyo Song, MSc.