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Natural Balance pulls venison dog foods

by Therese on April 15, 2007

in Pet Food Recall, Pet Health, Pets

** For a list of pet foods NOT on the recall list go to The Pet Food List **

I’m on my way out the door (getting away from the computer, can you believe it?!) but wanted to post some new Itchmo’s reporting:

Itchmo has confirmed an email from Natural Balance that they are removing two products from sale:

  • Venison and Brown Rice Dry Dog Formula
  • Venison and Green Pea Dry Dog Formula

This products do not contain wheat gluten. No deaths or serious illnesses have been reported and no recall warning has been issued. The warning applies only to products sold in the last week, according to Natural Balance.

Go on over to Itchmo to read more.


I talked with Jennfer Freeman at Natural Balance, who informed me that their website has been updated with new info, and they’ll continue to update it as more info is available. She said they don’t know what the problem is yet, but as a precaution, they are telling people not to feed the Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food, and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Foods.
She said they have not had any new complaints – the number stands at about 7 complaints.

From the their website:

We are receiving consumer complaints regarding the Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food, and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Foods. We do not know what is wrong with the food at this time, but we have heard that animals are vomiting and experiencing kidney problems. Please discontinue feeding all Venison and Brown Rice Dry Dog Food, and Venison and Green Pea Dry Cat Food.

We are working closely with the FDA.
We will update this website today, as more information comes available.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane April 18, 2007 at 3:59 pm

NB says the canned food is okay but I’m a little leery of it. I had bought some and they don’t like it very well. They like Fancy Feast. I’m not buying anymore food with venison in it anyway as that sounds awfully unappealing to me. Maybe back in the day of Robin Hood people ate venison but I kind of like deer and reindeer.


Diane April 19, 2007 at 1:58 am

My bag of Venison and green pea dry cat food doesn’t have the rice protein listed in the ingredients. I’m wondering if they just didn’t list it or is that the old formula before they changed it.


Enraged in Dallas April 19, 2007 at 7:10 am

Diane, I’ve read on Itchmo, that NB had said to someone that there were bags that didn’t have the new ingredient listed even though they had added it. That’s why they are not giving out lot numbers or dates and are recalling EVERY bag. Don’t trust any bag!!!!


tim April 19, 2007 at 10:39 am

Just recieved word that the Rice protein that is contaminated isnt just natural Balance. Another 2-4 brands wil be named later today.


Enraged in Dallas April 19, 2007 at 10:51 am

Hey Tim! From WHERE did you receive word that rice protein is in another 2-4 brands????? Oh man, this is really scary!!


Jen in vermont April 19, 2007 at 11:25 am

Enraged in Dallas,
I have looked at the release that wilbur and ellis have released. If you go up to recent post you will find a link and when you get there ithmo has a link with some pet foods that people have found that have the rice protein. Some where in all my blog reading I came across someone who researched and found some manufacturers in the states that wilbur and ellis said they sold the rice protein to.(blogs that I read are here and at itchmo. Hope that helps

ps. wilbur and ellis would only say the states that the manufacturers were from. These companies didn’t want their name released they are trying to cover their own a##es yet again as other pets a suffering. so sad


Stacey April 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm

My cat Missy Madam has been eating the venison and green pea formula since last October when I adopted her. She is only 10 months old. Last Tuesday I went to Petco in Redlands and bought two bags of the stuff because it was on sale. She started eating from the new bag on Wednesday. Friday night she began vomiting, became very lethargic, and loss of appetite. I was not relating it to the food at the time, because I thought, my cat eats the “good” food. I thought perhaps she was bit by a spider or ate a mouse. I took her to the vet on Monday, he gave her some antibiotics and anti-vomiting meds and sent us on our way. Well, to my dismay on Wednesday morning I heard the news about Natural Balance. They say it was from a new batch of food that contained the new rice protein concentrate. I immediately took her back to the vet, her temperature was even lower than before, 98.1, he says she’s critical. She is now on an iv and I should know the test results later this morning. I finally got hold of someone at Natural Balance and they claim they will be paying for the vet bills…we’ll see. Since Natural Balance has yet to give a lot number, I thought I’d provide the lot number from the bag that I believe has made my cat sick, NBA0302LD. I asked the doctor if having only given her 3 days of food from this bag would’ve caused her to get this ill, he said it all depends on how much of that melamine is present in the food. All of this makes me want to vomit. They say oh, take the food back and get your money back, but getting back $26 from Petco is of little comfort to me and my family.


Stacey April 19, 2007 at 12:46 pm

The best by date on the bag is Sept. 28


Frustrated April 19, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Sick dog — I’m with you! With all the food recalls going on, companies have to start taking responsibility and really testing their food (knowing the source of all their ingredients) – before coming out with a statement that their food is safe.

I have two large dogs – a retriever and a samoyed. Both were on NB Venison & Brown Rice for a few months now. On 4/8 I bought a new bag since we were low on food and they ate it for dinner. At the wee hours the next day (2am), both dogs were sick – one vomiting and the other having to urinate really bad. So all week we were in and out of the vet.

My Sammy seems to have bounced back to normal. My golden has unfortunately gone into kidney failure and has been in the hospital for 3 days now. I’ve spent a total of $4,000 (and counting) on both dogs. At this point all I care about is getting the dogs back to a healthy state, no matter what.

NB needs to step up to the plate and take responsibility for this. I’ve documented my pets health every day, recorded all expenses, and have kept copies of the vet’s notes.

Good luck to all other pet food victims!


Diane April 19, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Well I hope your cat recovers. The best by date on my bag was in May ’08. Of course its emptied into the trash now. I also stopped serving another brand that has rice protein in it that I just tried, another organic one, even though their website says they tested their rice protein and it had no melamine in it. I just put out the Purina Naturals and some Iams. I already spent about $100 on foods to go into the trash I think. I don’t think they even like the little cans of Natural Balance I got and may have to throw them out. They aren’t recalled. They prefer Fancy Feast or Meow Mix cups. One of the companies said they didn’t even know their supplier had ordered the stuff from China. Boy, all that crap from there.


tim April 20, 2007 at 10:13 am

Blue Buffalo recalled , Contaminated with Melamine. ( Rice protein )

Hope the other few brands step forward also!


tim April 20, 2007 at 10:15 am

Royal Canin Recalls Several Dry Foods
Royal Canin is recalling several formulations due to contaminated rice protein concentrate. No illnesses are confirmed in relation to these items. Royal Canin also recently recalled pet food in South Africa due to melamine found in corn gluten.


Valerie April 20, 2007 at 1:38 pm

I got my bag last Friday and my two cats at it only last Sat and Sunday by Monday both were showing loss of appetite. They are both on an iv drip since Wednesday. Are there any other treatments or meds that any vets have used that are helping? The vets where my animals are at are not giving me much hope…. from all the other recalls is there any alternatives people can give me???

Trying to be hopeful


Mike April 21, 2007 at 1:06 am

Hey Diane, actually, I believe “venison” **is** “deer”.


Mike April 21, 2007 at 1:22 am

Forgot to ask— Where did you have the opportunity to try reindeer? I’ve heard that it’s good, but have never had that.


Joe April 22, 2007 at 11:28 am

Those whose dogs have had kidney problems, please post the lot numbers and “best before” dates of your bags of food. I would really appreciate it!


Rob April 23, 2007 at 4:14 am

I have a 5 1/2 month old french bulldog puppy. We switched him to Natural Balance Potato and Duck dry food @ 3 weeks ago. We bought the smaller bags to begin with twice. The food in both of these bags were dark brown in color and our puppy loved it and was doing well. We bought another small bag last week and the color was a light tannish brown. I put the food in his bowl, and whereas before he would dig right in, he sniffed it and kind of looked at me. He eventually ate the food. After three feedings, he threw up, something he had not done since we switched the food to Natural Balance. The last “good ” bag he had that was dark brown in color had a Best By date of June 13, 2008. The bag that he threw up with had a Best By date of September 08, 2008. I called around trying to find another bag with the June Best By date. We could only find a bag with a June 8, 2008 Best By date, and it is the same light color as the bag from September. He has not thrown up eating the bag with earilier June date, but his stool is way soft and bordering on diaherra now. He is not lethargic, but due to all this news I am very concerned. Has someone had a problem with the Potato and Duck brand dry dog food? I contacted Natural Balance right away by e-mail last Friday, but I have not heard back from them yet.


Enraged in Dallas April 23, 2007 at 8:33 am


As I posted earlier, I had a very healthy Bichon Mix that I had to put to sleep on March 15th due to kidney failure. The Vet was stunned how quickly she got sick within weeks. I began feeding her Natural Balance Duck & Potato, dry & wet 2 WEEKS prior to her death. I called NB immediately after I heard about the recall (the day after she was put to sleep) to let them know that I think there is a problem with their food! Of course, they denied anything was wrong with their food because it wasn’t on the recall list. But I KNEW it was the food … somehow!

Please stop feeding your dog any product by Natural Balance, regardless of the dates!!!! I was also feeding my kitten the Natural Balance Venison & Green Pea, which has just been recalled. I thought I was going to lose my mind when I heard the news. What a nightmare!!! I don’t trust any of their foods right now. Be safe … not sorry. Good luck!


tim April 23, 2007 at 10:42 am


Duck & Potato is finem I know this for a fact.

The reason the Duck ad potato is different colour is because the potato is sourced for different farms around the U.S due to availablity, That is the onyl reason..

Rice protein is only in Venison products, no other!

Enraged in Dallas said, Sorry to hear of your loss…. But it isnt always the food, dogs do get into stuff which are not good for them!


Enraged in Dallas April 23, 2007 at 12:20 pm


From reading your last comment and your other posts, you sound like you work for Natural Balance! Very quick and adamant to defend . . .


Stacey April 23, 2007 at 1:59 pm

It was confirmed by my vet on Thursday that Missy Madam was in severe renal failure. We decided to keep her on an IV drip for a few days. Saturday morning she began having somewhat of an appetite and a bit more alert. This morning she had eaten an all of her food and was purring to her little heart’s content. She was rolling onto her back wanting me to stroke her tum. Hopefully we’re out of the woods. The vet will be doing more bloodwork today. I’ve called Natural Balance twice and sent one e-mail, still no response.


tim April 23, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Enraged in Dallas

No, actually I do not work for natural Balance nor have I ever!
( I am a vet )

I just want people to have the facts straight. As I said, I am sorry for your loss. Recalls theses days have become away of life, example – I believe it was Mars chocolate bars recalled a month or so back because plastic was found inside. It happens everyday from one company to another.

The reason for me to defend this brand is that, we should be happy they made us aware as soon as they found out unlike some of the other brands. I will continue to support this brand & have more faith than ever that they are a trusing company.


Enraged in Dallas April 23, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Sorry Tim, but I’m still suspicious of your “certainty” in this company! I don’t care how quickly they responded …. remember the initial recall started back in the middle of March. It’s a month later, and NOW they start admiting to their potential problems????? Please, stop putting false hopes into people’s minds regarding this company. You are NO EXPERT on THEIR situation. I hope to help and make people more cautious about their pet food choices, and you’re encouraging and giving them permission to use certain foods??? That’s wrong and dangerous!!!

Is this the only board you read???? It’s criminal what I’ve read on several other boards. Please don’t bother to answer. I’m not responding to this blog anymore! Readers, please beware of what you read. Goodbye!


Allison April 23, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Hi everyone,

This is in regards to the Natural Balance recall. specifically the Venison and Brown Rice formula I have been feeding my dog Natural Balance for a year now she has been in good condtion. When I heard of the recall I took her off of the food and brought her to the Vet. She had no symptoms at all so I thought everything would be fine. Well the vet took a blood and urine test and I later found out that she tested positive for Melamine. There were crystals in her Kidney and the doctor said that if she would have continued to eat the food she would have died. I am urging you all to please bring your dog or cat in to be seen if they have been on this food before they show signs or symptoms of illness.


Enraged in Dallas April 23, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Allison, you wrote:

“I am urging you all to please bring your dog or cat IN to be seen if they have been on this food before they show signs or symptoms of illness.”

Are you a Vet too, urging people “to bring our dog or cat IN to be seen if they have been on this food”? Is this blog for Vets to encourage more visits??? Come on people.


Steve April 23, 2007 at 9:43 pm

Stacey: check the Natural Balance website – they have a new 800 number to report animals who were sickened by their food.

We’ve got two cats that had the same venison and green pea (and rice) dry food, lot number NBA0302LD, date code 28-Sep-08, and the vet just verified that they both have kidney damage as well. They’re still active and appear healthy aside from having lost their appetite for a few days and being very, very thirsty. No vomiting or lethargy, but obviously every cat responds differently to the toxic insult, and it’s still not clear when or if there will be any recovery, and if so, how much ill cats will improve.

We just got off the phone with NB and were told that they are now covering vet costs “on a case by case basis”… clearly they’re in a lot deeper than they were expecting on that first day! And that’s not even getting into changing their grain-free formula without telling anyone. People who buy premium food have very long memories when it comes to stunts like this.


Rob April 24, 2007 at 4:08 am

Thank you to all who posted in response to my question. My heart goes out to all of you who have lost their best friends, or those who are sick. I’m far more than upset. I do not understand how potato could change the color of a food from dark brown to light tan. My puppy’s stool changed as soon as he started eating the new bag of food. I have to think that there is something else wrong with the formula other than a different potato. I took him off another high quality food because he developed an allergy to it. He was throwing up, got red splotches and had some hair loss. He also had ears that were very dirty, even when we first got him and needed to be cleaned almost daily. When I switched to the Natural Balance Potato and Duck, his ears cleared up immediately and I noticed some hair was starting to grow back on the spots he had. That was just within the first two weeks. His stool improved amazingly and I was quite happy, but that was before the last bag of food. He acts perfectly fine otherwise, but as someone posted, there could still be melanine poisoning going on. He has a vet appt. I’m just at a loss. I need a food that has one simple protein and no grains. It’s just quite sad that we don’t know who to trust anymore…or even that we CAN trust any pet food company anymore with the well being of our animals.


Deanna April 24, 2007 at 8:38 am


Personally…and please remember I’m speaking only for MYSELF….I’m finding it impossible, to trust ANYONE in the pet food (and other products) companies. It is for that reason, that I am home-cooking for them (with the help of my vet)…and will continue to do so as I’ve seen SO many lies from all these companies!

Some people claim that smaller, more caring pet food companies are going to suffer because of this debacle. I think that, if they are doing what they claim…and that is making a wholesome pet food….they will eventually weather this storm.

But, until I find one of those companies (after extensive research) I will continue to home-cook with the aid of a supplement (which I am now doing research for)….

My suggestion would be to you to get your Vet to help you with a “simple” recipe and supplement just for the time being. Hopefully you’ll get some “much-needed” sleep and be able to do the extensive research for the “miracle” pet food, that so many others, like yourself, are searching for.

Now…I realize home-cooking is not for every pet…I know that….but it can’t hurt in the meantime, to feed a ‘Vet-approved” recipe! Plus..it’s got to be cheaper than bouncing around from brand to brand…..and easier on your “fur-baby’s” tummy!………

Please remember, that I started off saying that this is what’s worked so far FOR ME…and that this is only a SUGGESTION….hope you get some relief in this matter soon…I extend my best wishes to you!


Allison April 24, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Enraged in Dallas,

I am not a Vet. I am a pet owner who loves her dog like her own child and would do anything for her. I assume others would want to benefit from the wisdom I have received and not wait till it’s to late. My advice was only FYI and what you choose to do with that is up to you.


Allyson April 25, 2007 at 3:04 pm

My cat has been eating venison and pea dry cat food from Natural Balance since aproximately Sept 2005. I only found out on Saturday of the recall. He was tested and thank God he’s ok. Is Natural Balance paying for any testings done? I was thinking about faxing them my vet bill with a letter, what are your suggestions in regards to that. I called them a few days ago with my contact info and questions about that but no one has called me back. Other companies are automatically paying for vet bills and treatments.

What is everyone feeding their cats now?

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone.


Cindy April 29, 2007 at 5:13 pm

I have been feeding my four male cats Natural Balance venison and green pea for several months. One has food allergies, so it was easier to give them all the same dry food. The cat with allergies also gets the canned venison and green pea. After the NB recall, I immediately stopped feeding the venison dry. Ironically,
my home delivery of 2 10 lb. bags arrived THAT SAME DAY. I saved a portion of my dry venison and green pea that I had been feeding the boys…just in case.
Thay have not had venison & gp dry since the recall, but I did notice they were drinking a lot of water. I would fill up a glass mixing bowl with about 40 ounces of water and approx 24 oz would be gone when I returned home @ 4:00 in the afternoon. Jacob (almost 2 yr old)seemed to be less playful than usual and sleeping alot. I took him to the vet on 4/28/09 thinking “if he is o.k. then I won’t have the others checked. When they checked Jacob they found that he has borderline kidney failure. The vet said make sure he has access to lots of water. Now I will have my other 3 cats evaluated as well.
The lot numbers and exp dates on my two bags that they had eaten prior to the recall are:
15/sept/08 NBA0301A21XJL0632
15/sept/08 NBA0301AZ1XJL0635
Anyone else have cats that have been affected after eating food with these Numbers?


Cindy April 29, 2007 at 5:19 pm

err…. I can spellthe word “They” and that date should have been 4/28/07 for Jacob’s diagnosis of borderline kidney failure.


chad April 29, 2007 at 9:31 pm

We have a chcolate lab that was in perfect health, until we fed her a new bag of the venison and brown rice dry dog food. Cora, our dog started vomiting within a few days of feeding her this new bag. She finaly did not want to eat anymore!! thats when i called Natural balance to see if there was anything going on with their food. I was in shock when they told me there was a recall. Cora has been at the emergency vet on an iv with kidney failier.She did not look like she was going to make it,But wih prayer and medical support she is looking like she might pull through. Cora is still not out of the woods yet, but we are hopefull. The cost so far has been around $4000.00 and counting. I hope Natural Balance will do the right thing!!


Therese April 30, 2007 at 8:43 am

Hi Chad,

I wish Cora the best!



Donna O April 30, 2007 at 10:41 am

I am glad you still have the bags and a sample. I have to ask you if your vet or youself are reporting this?


Cindy May 1, 2007 at 4:54 pm

I called Natural Balance to report Jacob’s condition. I think Natural Balance may try to call the Vet. The rep that I spoke with asked me quite a few questions including the name and number of the clinic. It is a low cost clinic and very difficult to get someone on the phone because they are always very busy. I am taking my cat Cody, to the Cat Vet tomorrow 5/2/07. His visit will not be low cost as they are giving him a thorough exam and lab testing. I will ask when I am there if they are reporting incidents. Nevertheless, I will call the company about Cody too. I put him on Green pea and venison because of his food allergies. I would not be incurring the expense of a visit to the vet if NB had been honorable in keeping the ingredients pure in their “hypoallergenic” diet. Ironic… they try to save money by adding the rice protein and reducing venison protein….the Chinese company saves money by adding the melamine to make the rice protein appear to have a higher precentage protein content. It really makes me angry that NB was cutting corners and all of our pets suffered.


Jon May 2, 2007 at 2:44 am

I too have fed my cat the venison and green pea formula. So far he is ok and we stopped feeding it to him 2 weeks ago when the recall happened. My dates on the bag were expires in June 08. It does not contain the ingredient “Rice protein concentrate” but my local pet food store owner who i trust told me that pet food does not uphold to the same standards as human food, and therefore do not have to list ingredients immediately after they change and can continue to use old bags. Basically he told me they have leeway so that they don’t have to throw away old empty bags if they make an ingredient change. I hope that NB makes a comment soon reporting on their findings, lot numbers etc. mi just posting this because we are all looking for answers and i hope this helps someone.

I’m so sorry to the people that are going through their animals being sick i can only imagine what you are going through. Just fearing and and watching my pet, knowing i recently switched to venison and green pea formula has been torture. My thoughts are with you all.


August May 8, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Re: NB Vennison and brown rice dry recall. The code on the new bag that I opened was NRV020302NL. Best before date: 20 August 08. Since the company is not providing info about lot #s – I really appreciate that info being shared. My Australian Shepherd vomited. I switched as soon as I heard about recall(April 16,2007). Switched to Elk and salmon (Timberwolf). I feel unsure of most products now but my dog did not do well on homemade (vet approved diet) that I used before choosing this new food. I hope that by giving factual information we can help each other. I would be interested to know if any one else had trouble with this lot code of NB Vennison for dogs. My dog is the most incredibly loving dog – he looks great since the switch but not as energetic. Not lethargic, just lese intense. (Now I’m being emotional I realize) I’m just concerned if I can trust any food.


Therese July 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Hi Jacqueline, I’m so sorry to hear you lost Baron. I know how hard to lose such a loved family member.


Jacqueline Freethy July 31, 2007 at 3:18 am


Thank you so much for your comment. What a pleasant surprise, I really appreciate your support.


Jessica Abrams Miller September 26, 2008 at 2:15 pm

I’m sorry about Bearon. He was such a great Pup and lived a long life with you by his side.


Jacqueline Freethy January 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Jessica Abrams Miller,

I’m moved from your comment about Bearon. Thanks very much for your sympathy and realization of what he meant to me..I truly cherish our friendship..


Natasha March 30, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Interesting….my mother and I both fed our dogs the Natural Balance dry food, hers was a poodle, mine was a pit/mastiff mix. Both dogs died unusually young of cancerous tumors. Her dog had a sister who is still healthy and is being taken care of by my aunt and was fed a different type of dog food. My mother and I both swear now it was the dog food that killed our dogs since they both died so young. Mine dropped suddenly, we didn’t know she was sick until she had complete organ failure. She had just turned 7yrs old. Anyone else told their pet died of “cancer” at an unusually young age that fed them Natural Balance dry food?


Natasha March 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I should make it clear that this was back during the recall in 2007 but because the dogs were given the diagnosis of “cancer” we didn’t initially connect it to the dog food. I didn’t even know that my mother fed her dog the same food until recently.


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