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Pet Food Recalls: Why, What, and How to Stay Up To Date | Vet Organics

Pet Food Recalls: Why, What, and How to Stay Up To Date


Something catches our eyes on the ticker, and our eyes focus on a familiar string of letters, but it’s gone before we can process what it said. Finally, it cycles around again, and our heart sinks. We recognize our pet food brand scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen during the evening news. At that moment, dates and serial numbers don’t matter. There’s nothing that can stop us from dumping that kibble into the garbage. Once our heart stops pounding, we do a little Googling. It might turn out our food wasn’t even manufactured in the same year as the affected batch, but our relieved sigh turns to a shudder when we realize the recall was issued over a week ago.

Read on to learn what to do when our dog’s food is recalled and how we can keep ourselves from being blindsided.


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Pet Food Recalls: Why, What, and How to Stay Up To Date | Vet Organics

What Is and What Triggers a Pet Food Recall?

Food will be recalled when the manufacturer or FDA suspects it contains dangerous chemicals or foreign objects. While this can include anything from metal shavings to pentobarbital, a lot of recalls revolve around the below items:

Salmonella: The CDC estimates that this bacterium causes 23,000 hospitalizations every year. Dogs and cats, just like us, can be affected by Salmonella. It causes vomiting and intense diarrhea. Salmonella infections often stem from undercooked meat or poorly-sanitized production areas.

Vitamin Deficiencies or Overdoses: Errors in the manufacturing process can result in too little or too much of a vitamin in our pet’s food. While most people understand why too little of a nutrient is a bad thing, few realize how dangerous an overdose can be. Too much vitamin D, for example, can prove fatal.

Aflatoxin: Improper storage of dog or cat food can lead to fungal growth.  While most fungi are harmless, digesting some strains can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, liver failure, and even death. To prevent fungal growth, pet food should be kept in a dry place and bowls scrubbed on a daily basis.

Foreign Materials: Even with metal detectors standard on most production likes, mistakes happen. Plastic pieces and metal shavings can get through QC and end up in our dog or cat’s food. While these contaminants are often visible to the naked eye, they can still wreak havoc on our fur baby’s digestive system if left unchecked.

Pet Food Recalls: Why, What, and How to Stay Up To Date | Vet Organics

How to Find Out If Our Pet’s Food is Affected by a Recall

We now know why most pet food is recalled. But this does nothing to keep our pets safe. The news rarely reports on smaller scale contamination so it can be hard to stay abreast of current recalls. The best way to protect our fur babies is to find out about pet food recalls before they become common knowledge. While there are multiple alert systems available, we recommend relying on alerts from the following organizations:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA is the federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of our and our pets’ food, drugs, and medical devices. They’re often the first to know when something in the food supply goes awry. Just enter an email here to sign up for alerts.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): Founded in 1863, the AVMA is a non-profit that represents roughly 90,000 veterinarians. Providing various services to the public, including education on pet ownership, they also host one of the biggest pet food recall alert systems on the web. To sign up for notifications, follow them at @AVMARecallWatch on Twitter or like their Facebook page.

Pet Food Recalls: Why, What, and How to Stay Up To Date | Vet Organics

What to Do If Our Pet’s Food is Recalled

When we find out our dog or cat’s food could be part of a recall, we need to try our best not to panic. Once we’ve regained our composure, we’ll need to sit back and do the following.

Investigate the Recall Specifics: Go online and corroborate the manufacturing dates, product sizes, and lot numbers involved in the recall. The most detailed information can be found on the FDA’s website. We should only proceed if the product being recalled matches what we have on hand. Otherwise, we’ll be risking dietary upheaval over a knee-jerk reaction.

Stop Using the Contaminated Food: Once we’ve confirmed our product is part of the recall, we need to get it out of our pet’s reach. Then, go to the store and buy a replacement. While switching foods should be a gradual process, there’s often no chance to do that in the midst of a recall. Instead, we’ll need to mix our animal’s new food with a bit of pumpkin to prevent tummy aches and diarrhea. While most of the food can be thrown away, a small sample should be kept for testing.

Watch for Symptoms: The recall alert will likely tell us what to look out for. If our dog or cat displays any of these symptoms, it’s important that we contact a veterinarian immediately.  

Call the Manufacturer: Once we make sure our dog is okay and the food properly disposed of, it’s time to contact the manufacturer. When we get through, we’ll likely be asked for our contact information. After providing that, it’s time to ask the company for details about returns and reimbursements.

Pet food recalls are scary, but it’s vital that we stay calm and keep our head on straight. Panicking won’t help. By approaching the situation with a calm and level head, we can keep ourselves and our fur-babies safe. For more information on recent pet food recalls, please visit the FDA’s website.

Further Reading:

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