We have recently discovered that Mid-America Pet Foods (the privately held parent Company of Victor Dog Food) was bought out by another private entity in December of 2020. After the buy-out, we learned this is when a number of new product lines and brands were introduced by Mid-America. In 2023 alone, the company sales grew by an astounding 124 percent. In retrospect, it seems that when the manufacturing processes greatly expanded, the cleanliness and disinfection protocols at the manufacturing plants did not keep up with the increases in production.
Now as of January 2024, there is a class-action suit in the Texarkana district of Texas involving private individuals who lost their pets due to salmolella poisoning from Victor dog food products and family members who also became infected as well. It has been purported by the plaintiffs that they reached out to Victor in mid-October 2023 to inquire if there were any known problems or changes in the Victor dog food they were using. This was a little over a month after the first of three dog food recalls by Mid-America on Sept 9, 2023. Victor responded by leaving a voice mail on the plaintiff's phone, but the salmonella contamination was not mentioned even though Victor already knew about their contaminated product or products over a month prior to the plaintiff's inquiry.
This is pure irresponsibility on the part of Victor Pet Foods, and shady to say the least. This is why we do not feel, in good conscience, that we can ever go back to Victor dog food products, or any Mid-America product.
UPDATE: January 8, 2024
It has now been two months since the Victor dog food salmonella contamination recall. We have switched to the Diamond Naturals dog food pictured below. We have been very pleased with this dog food and plan on continuing to use it for the long term. We are currently using the following:
- For our puppy litters – Diamond Naturals All Life Stages Skin & Coat Salmon & Potato formula (pictured on the left below, blue bag).
- For our adult breeding dogs 8 years of age and under – A mixture of 2/3 Diamond Naturals All Life Stages Skin & Coat Salmon & Potato formula (pictured on the left below, blue bag) combined with 1/3 Diamond Naturals Adult Large Breed Lamb & Rice formula (pictured on the right below, green bag).
- For our adult senior dogs over 8 years of age – Diamond Naturals Adult Large Breed Lamb & Rice formula (pictured on the right below, green bag).
These formulas are meeting all the important qualities that we look for in our dog foods (please read the Dec 1 update below). If we make any changes, we will post those changes here. Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: December 1, 2023
We have now been using the Diamond Naturals Skin and Coat Salmon & Potato formula for 3 weeks and have found it to be good for both our Golden adults and puppies. The things we look for in a quality dog food in order of priority are as follows:
- We look closely at the the main ingredients, especially the first five or six listed on the package. Mostly meats are best. Does it have any unwanted ingredients such as wheat, corn, too much starchy foods, and others problematic ingredients (please see our full article on dog food recommendations under, "articles"). The worst offenders are Hill’s Science Diet, and Royal Canine (terribly expensive and often recommended and sold by many veterinarians).
- We look closely at the Guaranteed Analysis shown on the packaging. This shows the level of protein, fat, fiber, moisture, etc. These are important to consider so that they are appropriate for the size, breed, and age of the dog you are feeding (again, please see our full article on dog food recommendations under, "articles").
- We look at appearance of our dog's skin and coat after being on the dog food for a couple of months (changes in the skin and coat can be problematic). Things to look for are: flakes or dandruff on the skin; too oily or too dry of a coat that is noticeably different than previously. Ideally you want a skin and coat with a very slight amount of oil. When you run your fingers through the dog's hair and look at your fingers, if you notice a sheen on your hands, the dog's skin and coat are probably too oily. If the skin feels or looks dry, rough, or unsmooth this is too dry.
- We monitor the energy level of our Golden's after being on the dog food for a couple of weeks (too high of a level of energy or lethargic compared the dog's norm can be related to the dog food especially if noticed a couple of weeks after switching dog foods; this can be problematic).
- We observe our dog's stools after being on a dog food for a couple of weeks. Important indicators that we look for are: Shape - well formed, continuous, and segmented. Firmness - not hard, separated balls; not smooth like toothpaste or peanut butter; but segmented one-piece formations. Color - not black, not blonde, but a range of brown somewhat lighter or somewhat darker than milk chocolate (and this color range can depend the main ingredients in the dog food, e.g. beef will produce darker stools and chicken lighter). And finally, Odor - we do not want a pungent, foul or unusual odor. If you have history with your dog, you know the usual odor when they are acting normal and living healthy.
We Just Found Out About This Today! - November 10, 2023
On November 10, 2023, Mid America Pet Foods (the manufacturer of Victor Pet Foods) publically expanded their previous voluntary recall to their entire pet food product lines. This includes (but is not limited to) all Victor Pet Foods (dry & canned) that have expiration dates on or prior to October 31st, 2024. Mid America Pet Foods announced their recall to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Nov 9th, 2023 and the details of that announcement can be read here.
We have been big fans of Victor dog food for many years now for the following reasons:
- We have tried several of their products (as well as many other brands) and have found Victor to be of excellent and consistent quality. We base this opinion on how well our dogs and puppies have done while on the Victor brand dog foods. Our decision to use any dog food (including brands other than Victor, which have been numerous; about a dozen different brands over the years) are based on many important factors such as: the overall healthiness of our dogs while on the Victor dog foods (compared to other dog foods), how well our dogs and puppies like the food, the smell of the food to us, the appearance of our dogs coats, skin, and stools (shape, color, firmness, and odor if unusual); and
- Prior to Sept 5, 2023, Victor has never had a mandatory or voluntary product recall. We attribute this to their small operation which is not as likely to become contaminated as the big operations like Mars, Purina, and Diamond. But Victor has grown tremendously, especially in the past few years. This spells doom if you try to operate a large production in a relatively small facility without adopting the right cleaning and disinfection procedures. Apparently they grew too fast and didn't grow their knowledge and understanding about contaminations in a manufacturing environment.
WHAT TO DO:
- If you are currently using a Victor brand dog food (or any Mid America Pet Food product for that matter), do not handle the raw product with your hands so as not to transfer the contamination to yourself or other humans. Don't panic, this is not a radio-active alert, it's just a safety precaution. Symptoms of human infection from Salmonella can include: diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, blood in your stools (darker in color than usual), and dehydration. We are not medical professionals. If you are experiencing these symptoms after handling Victor dog foods directly with your unprotected hands (not the dog food packaging, but the kibbles directly or even the feces of your dog), seek professional medical attention from a doctor.
- If you are currently using a Victor brand dog food (or any Mid America Pet Food product), stop using it immediately, unless the expiration date is AFTER October 31, 2024. But honestly, we don't think the manufacturer has been manufacturing since Oct 31st of 2023. The expiration dates on Victor dog foods extend 1 year beyond the date of manufacturing. So, since the recalls extend to all expiration dates prior to Oct 31, 2024, it would seem plausible that they have stopped their pet food productions as of Oct 31 of this year (2023) and have been trying to correct the problem (and decide how to proceed).
- Signs to look for in your pet that may have become infected by the contaminated dog food include: lethargic, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets may only exhibit decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain, but If you see these symptoms in your dog or puppy, seek a medical exam of your dog or puppy by a licensed veterinarian as soon as possible.
- If you are currently using a Victor brand dog food or have recently purchased one of their products, seal it up well (if already opened) and return it to the place where you bought it immediately. Large suppliers such as Chewy.com and PetFood.com are already aware of the recall and you won't get any pushback from those retailers (they may just tell you to destroy it and they will refund you or send you something else at no charge). Smaller pet stores and franchises such as Petco or other local pet stores in your community may not be aware of the recall since this is all new and hot off the press (less than 24 hours since the publicly announced recall at the time of this writing).
- If you have been using stainless steel or glass bowls to feed and water your dog(s), sterilize them immediately by putting them into the dishwasher and use the sanitize temperature setting. Alternatively, use an ammonia OR bleach product (but not both, dangerous fumes when mixed!) and thoroughly clean the stainless steel or glass bowls. If you are using plastic or ceramic dishes for food and/or water, discard them and get new ones since these are porous and are not worth the risk of trying to clean the contamination effectively.
- We have spent the better part of the day, today, doing our usual in-depth research to find both a short-term and a long-term solution to this problem. Therefore, our recommended product that we will be feeding our puppies and adult dogs for the short-term is one that we feel will be easy on their digestive systems (since we can't make a slow transition to prevent diarrhea as is usually the case with an abrupt change of food). The dog food that we are recommending is as follows:
Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula All Life Stages Dry Dog Food
(Salmon & Potato Formula)
The above is readily available at Chewy, PetFood.com, and most local stores in your community. This is our short-term solution and we will update this article in the coming weeks (or sooner if we notice any problems that are not meeting our standards). Our long-term solution will follow and will, hopefully, be a consistent solution that does not require more changes.