Tainted food kills 16 dogs

2011-04-26 09:26

Pretoria – At least 16 dogs have died after eating contaminated dry dog food.

Two died at the academic hospital of the veterinary science faculty at the University of Pretoria at Onderstepoort on Sunday night.

Their symptoms were similar to those of the 12 dogs who died due to aflatoxicosis.

A vet from the academic hospital, who didn't want to be named, said although they were still waiting on the post-mortems and test results, they had a strong suspicion that the last two dogs also died due to aflatoxicosis.

Landie Maritz from a smallholding near Olympus, east of Pretoria, said her two boerbulls died respectively on Thursday and at the weekend.

They had always eaten Hi-Pro, but the last bag smelt off and they didn't really want to eat it.

"We thought the dogs were just being picky and bought them other food, but they didn't want to eat that either."

The damage had presumably been done already and the animals died shortly afterwards. They were considering suing Hi-Pro, said Maritz.

"The dogs were our children and our security on the smallholding."

Reporters found telephone numbers on the internet for Hi-Pro and Buddies, one of the other alleged contaminated foods, but no one answered when they were called. A number for the third dog food, Legend, could not be found.

Barry Hundley, executive director of the Pet Food Institute of South Africa, said the first 12 deaths occurred last week.

Most occurred in northern Pretoria but vets confirmed that there could be cases in other parts of Pretoria and Johannesburg.

It has come to light that a micotoxin, which is caused by a fungus, has been found in these foods.

The fungus usually contaminates vegetable matter, mainly due to poor harvesting techniques or bad storage practices. This leads to aflatoxicosis.

Samples of the suspect foods have already been sent for tests and "extremely high" concentrations of aflatoxicosis have been detected.

The academic hospital confirmed that there could be many more deaths as some owners took their animals to private vets.

"Many people in our area are from a lower income group and therefore buy cheaper dog food. Animals usually don't enjoy eating the contaminated food but if they are hungry and it is all they are getting, they will eat it," explained the vet.

The effect on the animal and its chance of survival depended on how long and how much of the food it had been eating.

"Most of the dogs that came to us died very quickly, usually overnight."

The symptoms included signs of jaundice, like for instance yellowing gums, nausea, bloody stools and listlessness.


  • Karools - 2011-04-26 09:30

    Dit is baie sad! Duur hondekos/pille is nie noodwendig beter nie, maar as dit moet, koop eerder bekende make. Alhoewel, selfs hulle word soms van die mark onttrek agv bakterie ens. Gaan doen gerus navorsing op die internet oor alles wat in die hondekos ingaan, die prosessering daarvan, ens. Dis sleg dat ons so lui geraak het dat ons vir ons geliefde 'kinders'/troeteldiere kitskos gee. In die 60's toe begin is om die hondepille te vervaardig, het ons troeteldiere begin om korter te lewe en hulle het begin om allerhande 'menslike' siektes te kry wat hul nooit voorheen gekry het nie - kanker, hart- en ander orgaansiektes, swak dermfunksies, velprobleme, diabetes en dies meer. Alle sterkte aan die mense wat op so slegte manier hul honde verloor, dis baie hartseer.

      Willa - 2011-04-26 10:55

      Karools dit is baie sad. Ek stem saam. Maar jou stelling dat honde meer siektes kry van die 60's af is totale twak. Beter kwaliteit hondekos is nou beskikbaar as destyds en daar is selfs nou kos op die mark (verkrygbaar op voorskrif van 'n veearts) wat spesifiek sekere bestandele byvoeg of weglaat soos benodig om sekere kroniese siektes te behandel. Die rede hoekom honde "skynbaar" meer siek raak is omdat hulle nou baie langer lewe as in die 60's. Dis so goed jy se omdat mense kry nou meer kanker as in 1900 - erm duh...hulle lewe langer so obviously gaan jou statistieke anders lyk. Jy kan nie appels met pere vergelyk nie.

  • 1gascan - 2011-04-26 09:37

    Terrible terrible terrible! But one cannot say that it is only the "cheap" dog food that can cause this - a few years back Vets Choice had a similar situation on their hands. These guys need to be brought to book!!!! Funny how one cannot get hold of the food manufacturers...

      Roeks - 2011-04-26 09:54

      @1GASCAN Get your facts straight numb nut. I have a acquintance that works for Royal Canin Pty (Ltd) who bought out, owns and manufactures Vets Choice. They do, till this day, foot the bills for all the pets affected by the melamine incident 3 years ago. So thank you, I hope these guys will be brought to book and take responsibility, the same way Vets Choice had.

      Sunshine - 2011-04-26 10:08

      I agree, funny how the manufacturers were not available. If it was baby food that had been contaminated the manufacturers would have been hunted down and forced to give answers by now.

      1gascan - 2011-04-26 10:12

      @ROEKS Before you go ahead insulting people, read my post again (I won't stoop to your level and insult you back). I was merely referring to the Vets Choice saga in terms of these incidents not only occurring in "cheap" foods, not once did I say that Vets Choice and the involved parties were NOT brought to book 3 years ago! I was pointing out the fact that it doesn't matter what brand it is nor how cheap or expensive the food is! If you read the article, it clearly states that consumers cannot contact Hi-Pro and the other two offending companies - hence my comment "These guys need to be brought to book!!!! Funny how one cannot get hold of the food manufacturers..." Before commenting and insulting, read carefully... Just saying!

      Roeks - 2011-04-26 11:52

      Thanks for clearing that up, now EVERYBODY is on the same page

      JG - 2011-04-26 23:28

      Royal Canin took proactive measures to remove all food from shelves and the dogs' mouths even before the toxicities were confirmed. They incurred millions of losses on suspision alone and had dedicated support lines to deal with claims and refunds. A few other brands were also found to contain Melamine at that stage which weren't evenwithdrawn! More than 100 brands in America were affected! This should have been a warning for human food industry, yet hundreds of babies died with the same thing! I worry about the content of pet food if a bag of maize is more expensive per kg of dog food.....

  • Sunshine - 2011-04-26 10:05

    What a shocking story! My dogs are like my children.....I cant even imagine how terrible these owners must feel knowing that their animals died because of the food that they were fed. The manufacturers should be held accountable for this!

  • tinuslocal - 2011-04-26 10:22

    My dog use to eat Hi-pro for the last 4-6 years and we never had a problem until i read this article, as my Boerboel died teusday morning after showing no signs of illness.

      Hadaya - 2011-04-26 12:33

      I'm sorry Tinus... not cool... Really sorry.

  • Flee - 2011-04-26 10:28

    OMGreatness... I would go ballistic... Seriously, my dogs pellets costs more than the amount of money I budget for two peoples Meat.. Although I do sympathize with the owners and really do no know what I would do if this happened to my "child" I just dont see how someone who supposedly loves their pet can give them cheep ass Maize based crap, as food??

      jweer42 - 2011-04-26 12:38

      Here we go ... "if they're hungry why don't they just eat cake?" kind of person.

      Flee - 2011-04-26 12:58

      Jweer... Please explain?

      jweer42 - 2011-04-26 13:08

      Not everybody has the money to dish out for the very top in dog food so most of us must be happy with dog food you find in Pick 'n Pay. I have a pug and he's been eating mainstream dog food all his life and he is in a very healthy and good condition all the time. The "best" isn't always the best.

      KnysnaSha - 2011-04-26 13:25

      Unfortunately it is true, my cat eats Royal Canine that is bought at a vet. Luckily enough I can afford her food but poorer people that can only afford shop bought food can't be criticised. At least they are buying dog/cat food. Some people can barely feed themselves yet they still make the effort to feed their animals- and buy that I mean people living in the township.

      Flee - 2011-04-26 14:11

      Jweer... I do get what you are saying, but please must tell you that I have often lived on two minute noodles and veg, drinking tea with powdered milk etc... But my dog eats well, because I decided to get a pet and he is my responsibility. Unfortunately he contracted a debilitating disease, the food I buy allows him to lead a perfectly painless and full life. I could not put him down as there were alternatives to the "east way out", that so many heartless people opt for.. Sorry I might have sounded harsh, but realistically there are people whom cant afford a pet and still get one just for the sake of it...

      Barry M - 2011-05-13 13:49

      We had our dogs on Royal Canin and Hills - The older one developed problems with his bladder because he was drinking too much water due to the dry food making him thirsty and being a Spaniel he doesn't know when to stop drinking (Spaniels are really brain dead that way)- at the time we didn't put two and two together. When we took him to the vet they did batteries of tests and we were sent from pillar to post. R13,000 later and many "you must put him down's" we found a local vet that suggested a change of diet to a wet food called "Dog Matters". We haven't looked back - all four dogs are happier, much healthier and way more active and it costs half the price of the dry food too!

  • cindy.duplooy - 2011-04-26 10:43

    This is very sad :( My heart goes out to those that lost their loved ones.

  • - 2011-04-26 10:49

    when I saw the headline.....I got such a rush.....thought it was the corrupt politicians.....

  • Wayne - 2011-04-26 10:55

    Proudly South African...

  • hellcom666 - 2011-04-26 11:00

    Purina again, hi-pro is a division of Purina that killed dogs a while ago in sub standard food that was imported read,48565.asp

      JG - 2011-04-26 23:15

      Hi-pro is NOT a Nestle Purina brand, Budget Purina brands are Alpo and Purina One. Premium Purina: Olympic and Supercoat, Imported: Propac.

  • Hadaya - 2011-04-26 12:35

    I always say: would you feed your dogs food that you wouldn't eat yourself? My dogs are my family, and yes, they get a balanced diet of dog food, bones and other nice things (I would hate eating pasta every day of my life, so I don't just give them pellets). I ONLY EVER give them something that I wouldn't be afraid to eat myself. That's only fair.

      KnysnaSha - 2011-04-26 13:32

      The only difference is that dogs are not human and our food is way too rich for their digestive systems. And dry pellets are better for their teeth, wet food all the time is not, so actually you are not doing your dog any favours. Rather ask your vet to advise you on a good quality dog food and stick to that. Bones are also something that they should not eat too often (although we used to give ours one a day) as they are also a bit much for their systems, only in moderation.

      Flee - 2011-04-26 14:15

      Hayda, all good and well, but I would hope that you ensure that the foods you give them are suitable for their systems. Human food is not better or healthier for them just because it tastes good... Pellets serve other purposes as well, cleaning teeth, ensuring jaw strength and containing enough fiber for a good digestive tract..

      Flee - 2011-04-26 15:49

      Sorry Hadaya... Misread your name...

  • Carolyn - 2011-04-27 10:06

    I live in Cape Town, and over The last 3 months I have lost 3 of my dogs to liver failure they all died with in days of each other, I suspected that the dog food was responsible, the dog food is called PAWS. The first one that died was Dixie a Canis Africanis she had been healthy all her life, then she started to get sick I took her to the Animal anti cruely clinic and they ex rayed her and told me that her liver was so enlarged that not even an operation would save her so she was put to sleep, then a couple of weeks later my first chow developed similar problems and a private vet said that it was organ failure and she was put to sleep, five days after this my other chow chow developed the same problems, vomiting, not eating, and really very sick, she also went to a private vet, was put onto a drip, and it was hoped that she would pull through, saddly she did not and she died three days later, an autopsy was supposed to have been done, but we have not had the results from the Vet, We immediately suspected that it was the dog food that killed our dogs, and threw it away, so as not to cause harm to our remaning dogs. Still waiting for a Vet report, and I have informed Onderstepoort Vet of what has happened.

      green_goblin - 2011-05-16 14:41

      HI Carolyn, sorry to hear about your loss but I just wanted to mention that you should have kept the bag of dog food for analysis. Onderstepoort (OVI) can do mycotoxin testing on organs and will be able to determine from the autopsy if it was a toxin that killed your dog but to prove where the toxin came from it would have been beneficial to actually test the dog food.

  • Rhea - 2011-05-12 13:53

    We lost our Miniature Pincher 3 years ago during the melanin debacle and I will feel feel guilty for the rest of my life for feeding her contaminated food, which I bought from the vet, and which she trustingly ate. Now, with this second scare, I am going to try and feed my other dogs mainly homecooked meals consisting of rice, a little bit of petmince and veggies, and a daily vitamin pill (for dogs). At least it will diminish the chance of poisoning. While growing up our pets ate only mealie porridge and leftovers, with an egg in milk 3 times a week, and they thrived.

  • Hermien - 2011-05-13 21:15

    Waar kan mens hondekos aanmeld as jy 'n vermoede het dat dit dalk ook besmet is. Het 3 honde die week verloor en 4de een met erge lewerskade gediagnoseer deur Ondestepoort. Hermien

  • bev.boodhai - 2011-07-14 16:01

    I lost 3 of my well treasured very healthy dogs within a space of two weeks due to feeding them hi-pro. The diagnosis was aflatoxicosis. The symptoms were vomiting, yellowish gums, listlessness. Hi-pro needs to pay all who have lost dogs due to their negligence. I have sent a complaint through to them but they have not replied. They are now selling a new improved hi-pro dog food.

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