Excessive Vitamin D in Pet Food is Toxic, by Lee Pickett

Q: The pet food my dog ​​eats is called a sarge, because it contains so much vitamin D. Since Vitamin D is essential for good health, how can it be harmful?

A: Pet foods were pulled from several companies this year after they were found to contain toxic levels of vitamin D.

Humans can synthesize vitamin D with the help of sunlight, but dogs cannot, so they must take vitamin D in their food. If they consume a lot, the excess vitamin D is deposited in the body.

Vitamin D is important because it raises calcium levels in the blood. Calcium is necessary because, among other things, it makes the heart and other muscles contract.

However, excess vitamin D raises blood calcium levels to abnormally high levels, a harmful and potentially fatal condition called hypercalcemia.

Interestingly, some rodenticides contain high levels of vitamin D that kills by causing hypercalcemia.

In dog food, vitamin D toxicity and the severity of hypercalcemia depend on the amount of vitamin D in the food and the duration of exposure.

Dogs that ingest small, excessive amounts of vitamin D develop only mild hypercalcemia. Clinical signs include extreme thirst, urination, and decreased appetite. If exposure continues for a long time, these dogs can develop urinary stones that contain calcium.

A dog that consumes large amounts of vitamin D develops severe hypercalcemia, and suffers from the above clinical symptoms, loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting. Excess calcium travels throughout the body, which leads to failure of the kidneys and other organs, mineralization of soft tissues, and sometimes death.

I urge you to stop feeding Sarge the recalled food immediately. Save the receipt or product barcode. The company must reimburse you for the food and may reimburse you for Sarge’s testing and treatment. Let your vet know he was eating the food that was recalled and ask for guidance on the next step.

Q: The two stray cats I ate ate some leaves from my philodendron. Now they are lethargic, refuse food and water, vomit foam and suffer from diarrhea. What can I do for them?

A: Beautiful heart-shaped philodendron leaves contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that look like pointed needles on both ends. Because they do not dissolve in saliva, the crystals cause severe irritation of the entire lining of the digestive tract, from the mouth through the intestines.

Fortunately, the crystals are not absorbed into the blood, and that is the extent of the damage they do.

However, pain throughout the digestive tract can be severe, causing the clinical signs that kittens have.

Give your cat chicken broth or tuna water (but not tuna oil) to flush the crystals out of their mouths. Then feed them milk or yogurt to bind the calcium oxalate crystals and reduce pain.

If the cats are not eating and drinking within a few hours, take them to the vet. Cats can quickly develop life-threatening dehydration, which your vet can treat along with the pain from the crystals.

To keep cats away from your philodendron, place a motion-activated spray can nearby to release compressed air. Popular brands include ssscat, StayAway and Sunbeam Sensor Egg.

By the way, many other plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. Among them are arrowhead plant, calla lily, dieffenbachia (also called dumb reed), elephant’s ear, peace lily, pothos plant and umbrella plant.

Lee Pickett, VMD, practices animal companion medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at https://askthevet.pet.

Image credit: Vizslavotozas at Pixabay

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