A mystery illness that has struck down police dogs across the country has begun to affect family pets.
The Herald Sun reported that as of Saturday at least three pet dogs had contracted the disease in addition to nine police animals, one of which has died.
The rare disease megaesophagus slwoly closes the throat, making eating and drinking – even breathing – increasingly difficult.
People are being warned to keep an eye on their family pets after at least three have come down with the mystery illness that killed a police dog, according to the Herald Sun
Symptoms of the illness can include bad breath, coughing, extreme weight-loss and more breathing noises.
Nine-year-old Labradoodle Stan has lost almost five kilograms since being diagnosed with megaesophagus and has to rely on intravenous drips for fluids.
Tests are being done to see if this illness is linked to a dog food brand.
Stan the labradoodle was diagnosed last week and has lost five kilograms since his diagnosis of megaoesophagus
Stan’s sitter, Jamie Faulkner, is distressed over what is happening to the dog.
He’s even built a special chair to hold Stan so he can try to digest his food.
‘Try and keep him in there for half an hour til’ it you know, half digests, and then he comes out and he’s sick again. It’s pretty shocking,’ Mr Faulkner told 7 News.
Laura and Aaron O’Toole, Stan’s owners, told the Sunday Herald Sun: ‘[The vet] pretty much told us that there won’t be a good outcome.’
Tests are being done to see if the illness is linked to Advanced Dermocare dry dog food range but it has since been removed from the shelves
Pet owners are urged to not give Advanced Dermocare dry dog food range to their pets due to concerns about megaesophagus, which has struck down nine Victoria Police squad dogs.
It has been taken off the shelves as part of a major product recall.
The incurable condition causes the animals’ throats to painfully close up and has resulted in the death in at least one Victoria Police dog.
Another two are expected to be euthanised.
Victoria Police’s Dog Squad has been struck down with megaesophagus, which causes the animals’ throats to painfully close up, resulting in one dog being put down and another two expected to be euthanised
Nine members of the Victoria Police Dog Squad have been struck down by megaesophagus, which causes an enlarged oesophagus
Australian dog food brands used by police handlers are now under heavy scrutiny and specialist veterinarians are looking at the Advance Dermocare range as one possible cause of the illness, the Herald Sun reports.
Mars Petcare Australia is cooperating with the investigation and has voluntarily recalled Advance Dermocare dry dog food products in 3kg, 8kg and 15kg bags.
‘We advise dog owners who have purchased this product to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund,’ the company stated on its website.
‘These bags will have been purchased from specialty retailers and veterinarians. No other Advance products or varieties are affected. The health and wellbeing of Australian pets is our number one priority, so we were deeply concerned to learn that a number of dogs have been affected by megaoesophagus – a condition that is generally not associated with food.’
The company says it has run ‘hundreds of tests’ on its dog food range and has found no link between the condition and the product.
‘Regardless, we are voluntarily recalling these products as a precaution while we work to get to the bottom of the issue as soon as we can,’ the company stated on its website.
The Advance Dermocare (pictured) range in 3kg, 8kg and 15kg bags has been voluntarily taken off shelves nationwide
‘We will continue to provide information to University of Melbourne to enable further testing, and consult with the Australian Veterinary Association. We understand Australian pet owners may be worried. Concerned pet owners should contact their veterinarian, or our consumer care team on 1800 640 111.’
Animal Welfare Victoria urged concerned pet owners to speak with their vet.
Vet experts probing the cause of the illness affecting both the Victoria Police squad’s german shepherds and labradors — say food is a ‘common factor’ between the nine infected canines.
The sick dogs from Victoria Police contracted the debilitating condition in December and are still battling the ‘extremely rare illness’.
So far, one dog has died and the other eight remain unwell with varying levels of illness.
The sick dogs contracted the debilitating condition in December and are still battling the ‘extremely rare illness’ (Victoria Police dog pictured)
The Department of Correctional Services in South Australia has also euthanised one dog following a bout of pneumonia and another is sick with megaesophagus.
The DCS has since ordered dog handlers to avoid feeding the canines certain foods as it awaits autopsy results.
Inspector Jon Woodyatt from the Dog Squad told 3AW that although each dog has its own specific diet requirements, food is not being ruled out as a contributing factor.
Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia that the diagnosis of nine dogs in one incident is extremely rare and they are still figuring out the cause of the condition
‘At this stage, we’re told there was a number of common factors which we are looking at. One of them does include the food that we’re feeding the dogs,’ he said.
‘We’re told having this number of dogs with this condition is pretty much unheard of in veterinary circles.’
Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia that the diagnosis of nine dogs in one incident is extremely rare and they are still figuring out the cause of the condition.
‘We are saddened that one police dog has been put down as a result of the condition which can hamper adequate nutrition.’