Dog liver disease warning

Agriculture Victoria has been made aware of 45 cases of dogs, of which 10 have died, suffering from severe liver disease in the Bairnsdale, Traralgon and Frankston areas. Stock image

OWNERS who have unwell dogs which were fed fresh or frozen raw pet food bought between May 31 and July 3 have been advised to contact their veterinarian immediately.
The warning comes as Agriculture Victoria is supporting a PrimeSafe investigation into a cluster of dogs affected with severe liver disease.
Agriculture Victoria has been made aware of 45 cases of dogs, of which 10 have died, suffering from severe liver disease in the Bairnsdale, Traralgon and Frankston areas. All affected dogs were young, healthy and vaccinated.
The department is aware of a further seven anecdotal cases.
Fresh and frozen raw meat sourced from Gippsland and sold between May 31 and July 3 is one common factor and potential connections are being investigated. The meat product is distributed state-wide.
Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Graeme Cooke said dog owners should look out for a sudden loss of appetite, lethargy and jaundice in a dog that was previously healthy.
“We advise on a precautionary basis that if your dog has consumed fresh or frozen raw pet meat and your dog is unwell, please contact your veterinarian immediately,” he said.
“If you have questions about what you should feed your pet, talk to your vet about nutritional requirements.”
Agriculture Victoria has ruled out infections, canine leptospirosis, ehrlichiosis and aflatoxins and is continuing to coordinate testing of pet food and samples obtained from affected dogs to identify the potential cause including testing at AgriBio and relevant external laboratories. Examination of liver tissue has confirmed the clinical diagnosis of severe liver disease but has not pinpointed the cause.
Investigations are also focusing on food types, food additives, treats and other consumed items, water sources, environmental contacts, human and veterinary medicines and poisoning.
PrimeSafe continues to investigate compliance with the Meat Industry Act and the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production of Pet Meat at licenced facilities.
Dr Cooke said Victorian veterinarians should report suspected cases to Agriculture Victoria as the more information that is gathered, the more likely an answer will be found.
“Agriculture Victoria is supporting veterinarians with advice for those who have been treating the dogs,” he said.
“Veterinarians should be particularly on the lookout if previously healthy dogs fall ill to clinically severe hepatic disease over a short period of time and without clear cause.”
There are no indications of any risk to human health or any human food safety issues to date.
In a statement, PrimeSafe said the investigation into the cause of the cluster was complex.
“Testing continues at specialist laboratories across Australia, but a cause has not yet been identified.
“There are numerous lines of enquiry underway, with collaboration between PrimeSafe, Agriculture Victoria, pet food processors, key distributors, veterinarians, and the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia.”
PrimeSafe does not have the power to issue a mandatory recall of pet food, but pet meat processors and pet food distributors have put in place voluntary product withdrawals and recalls.
Owners with concerns about fresh or frozen pet meat have been advised to speak with their pet meat retailer.