Lisa, a professional dog breeder, is worried about the health and well-being of her Newfoundlands. In the past year, she has noticed that her dogs have been experiencing mysterious reproductive problems. Her healthy dogs are either not getting pregnant or they are conceiving deformed and dead puppies.
â€œThese are dogs that have all delivered healthy puppies before,â€ says Lisa, owner of Lighthouse Newfoundlands in Grafton, Ohio. â€œIâ€™ve been a full-time breeder since 1998 and Iâ€™ve never experienced as many problems as I have in the past year. Itâ€™s horrible.â€
She said that she first noticed problems in November. One of her dogs, Vella, had a litter of four puppies. Two were healthy while the other two were mummified fetuses. In January, another dog had a litter of nine puppies. Five were healthy, 3 were mummified fetuses, and one was deformed.
Apparently, Lisa is not the only Newfoundland breeder that is seeing problems in their dogs. Professional breeders in Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Texas said that they also have encountered puzzling reproductive problems. They all had the same experiences: puppies that didn’t grow, healthy dogs failing to get pregnant in the past two years, and deformed or dead puppies.
What could cause this problem? The breeders think the dog food is the culprit. That is the only common element among these Newfoundlands. They all feed their dogs Purina One and Purina Pro Plan.
â€œWhy am I certain itâ€™s the food? Because nothing else has changed in my breeding program,â€ says Lisa, who has 14 Newfoundlands. â€œThese are the same dames and the same sires. Theyâ€™ve all had healthy litters before.
“I keep my kennels clean, I donâ€™t over-vaccinate, I donâ€™t add supplements, I donâ€™t use pesticides, I follow all the regular worming protocols … â€¦nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed.â€
â€œAt first I thought it was the water, but that canâ€™t be. There are too many us across the country having the same problems with our dogs. It just has to be the food.â€
From Consumer Affairs:
The breeders say theyâ€™ve fed their dogs Purina products for years and never had any problems. But Wendy and Lisa suspected something was wrong with the food last summer.
â€œWe both fed our puppies Purina One large breed puppy food,â€ Wendy says. â€œAnd all our puppies had horrible diarrhea. They were squirting water out of their bottoms. It was awful.
Lisa says news of the melamine-tainted food confirmed her worst fears about the reproductive problems with her dogs.
â€œI read all about the effects melamine can have on pregnancies. And I learned that too much melamine can affect pregnancies.
â€œI also belong to a chat room with 2,000 subscribers and did my own research with them. Thatâ€™s when I found out that so many of us who were using Purina were having problems.â€
The breeders donâ€™t have any clinical analysis to support their convictions.
They didnâ€™t test the Purina they fed their dogs. They didnâ€™t have autopsies performed on the deceased puppies. And they didnâ€™t have lab work or ultrasounds done on the females that failed to get pregnant or delivered deformed or deceased puppies.
â€œIf all of us knew then what we know now, we would have done all sorts of things to prove our case,â€ Wendy says. â€œBut along the way, we went through so much devastation and heartbreak that we didnâ€™t think of it.â€
Veterinarians we interviewed agree the cases are interesting. And warrant further investigation.
But they warn itâ€™s premature to blame Purina for the Newfoundlandsâ€™ reproductive problems.
They say more testing is needed before any allegations can — or should — be made about the dog food.
â€œI believe these cases are too poorly defined to try to make any sort of statement regarding the likelihood of diet as the cause of the â€˜the problem,â€™â€ said Dr. Margaret Root Kustritz of the University of Minnesotaâ€™s College of Veterinary Medicine.
â€œI know of no such problem specific to Newfoundlands. I know of no data in the veterinary literature documenting loss of pups from dietary causes in apparently healthy (female).â€
The Newfoundlandsâ€™ reproductive issues also captured the attention of the Newfoundland Club of America (NCA).
â€œI find this very odd,â€ said Pam Rubio, head of NCAâ€™s Health and Longevity Committee. â€œI have not heard of this before. But there are lots of things that have never happened before that crop up.â€
Does she suspect the food?
â€œI would doubt it because so many of us feed Pro Plan without any problems. If itâ€™s the food — and Iâ€™m still doubtful of that — then it would have to be a change in the formula, the protein source, or an ingredient.â€
ConsumerAffairs.com also contacted Purina about the Newfoundlandsâ€™ problems. Spokesman Keith Schopp told us his company had never heard of these problems until our call.
He also said the pet food giant has not changed the formulas for Purina One or Purina Pro Plan in recent years.
Lisa and Wendy contacted ConsumerAffairs.com on Tuesday and said they discovered some of the Purina food theyâ€™d fed their dogs when the problems first started.
Lisa plans to immediately test the food.
So does Wendy, who also found some Purina in the bottom of one of her feed bins.
They also know their dogsâ€™ conditions have improved since they took them off Purina products months ago.
â€œThe difference is unbelievable,â€ says Wendy, who makes her own dog food and supplements it with a brand called Bil-Jac. That Ohio pet food maker uses locally produced ingredients. â€œMy dogs are looking so good. My younger ones are slowly starting to gain weight now that theyâ€™re off that poisonous food. I canâ€™t see their ribs anymore. And theyâ€™re a lot more active.â€