Urgent recall of deadly dog food
A MAJOR recall has been issued for dog food linked to the death and severe illness of several police dogs.
The ADVANCE Dermocare dry dog food range is being pulled off shelves and owners are being urged to stop using the product due to concerns it may be behind the potentially fatal condition, megaesophagus, which has struck down dogs in South Australia and Victoria.
A Mars Petcare Australia spokesperson said the company has been contacted by a number of concerned dog owners today.
"As a result, we are voluntarily recalling ADVANCE Dermocare dry dog food products in 3kg, 8kg and 15kg bags," the spokesperson said.
"We advise dog owners who have purchased this product to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.
"These bags will have been purchased from specialty retailers and veterinarians. No other ADVANCE products or varieties are affected."
The company says it has run "hundreds of tests" on its dog food range and has found no link between the condition and the product.
"Regardless, we are voluntarily recalling these products as a precaution while we work to get to the bottom of the issue as soon as we can," said the spokesperson.
"We will continue to provide information to University of Melbourne to enable further testing, and to consult with the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)."
SA Correctional Services Department euthanased one of two dogs diagnosed with megaeosophagus last month and has changed food provider as a precaution.
"The department has notified the manufacturer of the food, and has sent a sample of the food to be tested and are awaiting results," a spokesman said.
"DCS has also been requested an autopsy be conducted and are awaiting results."
He would not confirm or deny whether the brand in question was ADVANCE Dermocare.
Animal Welfare Victoria have encouraged concerned pet owners to speak with their vet.
Vet experts probing the cause of the almost "unheard of" illness - affecting both the squad's german shepherds and labradors - say food is a "common factor" between the nine infected canines.
The Advance Dermocare range is widely used among squad dog handlers, a source confirmed.
Megaesophagus is an incurable condition that causes the dog's oesophagus to become "abnormally enlarged" and lose its ability to swallow, affecting its ability to absorb adequate nutrients.
Victoria Police Dog Squad Inspector Jon Woodyatt said the sick dogs, aged between two and eight, fell ill with the condition from last December.
He said it took police weeks to connect the cases.
Insp Woodyatt confirmed the animals were fed dog food brands available at pet stores and that manufacturers had been contacted.
"Several possible sources have been eliminated with other likely causes still being fully explored," he said.
"There are a number of common factors we are looking at and one of them does include the food we are feeding the dogs."
Insp Woodyatt said vets were confident no other service dogs are or would become infected with the non-contagious condition.
"We have had no new cases for a period and on vet advice, we are confident we have isolated the casual factors … and no others are infected," he said.
The dogs that survive the illness will be retired from operational duties and will require lifelong maintenance.