Seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, liver malfunction and internal bleeding are some of the complaints on consumeraffairs.com regarding Purina's dog food, Beneful.
A class action lawsuit was filed on Feb. 5 accusing Beneful of making dogs sick and even causing death in some instances. The lawsuit accuses the company of using mycotoxins, a species of mold. According to blackmold.awardspace.com, mycotoxins are some of the most toxic substances in existence.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Frank Lucido, said he dealt with Beneful firsthand. According to topclassactions.com, Lucido's English Bulldog died after switching to Beneful. Lucido's two other dogs, a German Shepherd and Labrador, also became ill after switching food.
Purina Beneful received 708 one-star ratings out of 821 on Consumer Affairs' "Complaints & Reviews" page. One woman who said she was from Cincinnati said she lost both of her dogs in a six-month span after switching to Beneful. One dog died of kidney failure, the other succumbed to liver failure. The woman said the only connection she could make is the switch to Beneful.
Propylene Glycol, which can be found in antifreeze, has also been linked to the company. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of this additive for human and canine consumption.
But how worried should the average pet owner be?
"The ingredient that they are talking about is something that is not necessarily toxic to dogs at reasonable doses so I don't think we know enough to know if that's truly the issue," said Jenny Wells with MedVet.
Jenny Wells is a specialist at MedVet and says there's no proof it's the diet that's making the dogs in this lawsuit sick, but she adds food allergies could be a factor.
"Often we think it's the protein source in that diet but those are not dogs that were fine one day and then all of a sudden sick the other. Most often, those dogs have had a slow, gradual change," said Wells.
This lawsuit filed in a California court seeks $5 million in damages. It claims Purina knew this food was harmful and sold without proper testing. Wells stresses that if you're dog is showing any odd signs, it's always best to bring them into a vet.
"If they're lethargic and they typically love to run around the house and play and they're not doing those things, one episode of vomiting may be important so I think looking at the overall picture," said Wells.
Wells acknowledged this kind of issue can get over-hyped on social media, resulting in panic for your pet.
"That doesn't mean we want to discredit because you never know but I think that this issue is definitely something that gets blown up because it's a sensitive issue for people, people love their animals," said Wells.
A statement from Nestle Purina PetCare said: "We believe the lawsuit is baseless, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves and our brand. Beneful had two previous class action suits filed in recent years with similar baseless allegations, and both were dismissed by the courts"
They're also encouraging all consumers to continue to purchase this product.