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5 Weirdest Pet Food Recalls Ever

From metal fragments in canned food to size issues, your pet’s food is susceptible to a number of potential hazards. Here are 5 of the weirdest recalls in U.S. history.

Recalls of pet food, whether a “voluntary withdrawal” by the manufacturer or an FDA-mandated recall, are primarily issued because of potential contamination from “icky” substances, such as salmonella and listeria.

Similar to recalls of human food, these measures are designed to keep your pets safe and healthy.

Some recalls are a little bit stranger, though: From the presence of metallic fragments in canned food to size issues, your pet’s food is susceptible to a number of potential hazards.


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Below are 5 of the weirdest pet food recalls in U.S. history …

Photo of scrap metal by Jeremy Hiebert

1. Metal Contamination

Everyone with a pet is used to cleaning up messes from time to time.

For instance, after a bit of roughhousing by your dog or cat, a favorite toy can end up in pieces all over the house. No one expects pieces of metal to end up in our pet’s food dish, however.

In February 2017, that grim possibility became reality when PetSmart discovered metal fragments in a batch of its Grreat Choice chicken and rice flavored adult dog food. The company immediately issued a voluntary recall, saving face as well as lives.

A number of other pet food brands have issued recalls over the years for metal shavings, shards, pieces or fragments — and it’s still unsettling every time I see these types of recalls.

Keep Your Pet Safe! Sign up for FREE pet food recall alerts now.

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2. Dog Food as a Sedative

After dinner, it’s natural to get sleepy. Since the digestion process takes a large amount of energy, borrowing blood from other bodily systems, it’s perfectly normal for your pet to fall asleep following feeding time — as long as they wake up again.

In February 2018, many people feared the worst after traces of a drug used for sedation and euthanasia were discovered in a number of canned dog food brands manufactured by the J.M. Smucker company.

More than a dozen flavors of canned Gravy Train, Ol’ Roy, Skippy and Kibbles ‘N Bits dog food were recalled following a television news expose.

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The investigation took some time — in November 2016, following the death of several healthy dogs in the metro area, Washington D.C.’s WJLA-TV partnered with an independent testing lab to find the source of contamination.

More than 60 varieties of dog food were tested, and the results were frightening — the sedative pentobarbital was found in 9 of the cans. The apparent source? Euthanized cows had been rendered into the pet food — illegally.

3. Too Many Hormones

Much of the beef manufactured in the U.S. contains a number of hormones, at levels that are deemed safe enough for humans and pets to consume. Occasionally, however, errors in the manufacturing process can result in a potentially dangerous situation for your pets.

For instance, excess beef thyroid hormones can wreak havoc on your dog’s body, resulting in symptoms ranging from increased heart rate to vomiting, weight loss and lethargy.

A 2017 investigation of Milo’s Kitchen found elevated amounts of thyroid hormones in many of the company’s dog treats. The FDA suspected that thyroid glands were not completely removed from beef sources used in the manufacturing process, a violation of federal law.

Keep Your Pet Safe! Sign up for FREE pet food recall alerts now.

4. Size Matters?

Pet food recalls don’t always involve contaminates. Just before the 2017 holiday season, a California-based company recalled several products that were perfectly safe — the morsels were simply the wrong size.

Primal Pet Foods, Inc. Issued the voluntary recall since the size, a reported 1/4- to 1/8-inch increase, didn’t meet the company’s “specifications.” No illnesses or compilations were reported from consumption of the products.

5. Excess Vitamins

Where a healthy and balanced diet is concerned, most people with pets would agree that vitamins are a good thing.

But the opposite end of the spectrum can be just as detrimental to your pet’s well-being — too much of a particular vitamin or mineral can actually cause health problems.

I was surprised to learn that an excess amount of Vitamin D may lead to kidney failure and/or excess levels of calcium. The main source of Vitamin D is ultraviolet rays from the sun, and if your pet is active, they are likely getting a healthy amount of the vitamin during playtime.

Eleven cats reportedly fell ill from elevated amounts of Vitamin D in spring 2015, prompting a recall of 5 varieties of Rachael Ray Nutrish cat food.

Keep Your Pet Safe! Sign up for FREE pet food recall alerts now.

Can You Keep Your Pet Safe?

You’re probably freaking out a bit after reading all of this. After all, pets are like family.

The good news is that most companies are quick to issue recall notices. This means that we just have to stay up-to-date on recent recalls and keep a watchful eye on our pets.

If you have not signed up to receive Petful’s pet food recall alerts, do yourself a favor and subscribe now.

This is a free service, and you’ll know about dog food recalls as soon as we find out about them.

Our recall alerts often arrive in your inbox days — yes, DAYS — before you’ll hear about them anywhere else. That gives you an extra advantage when it comes to a longer, healthier life for your pet. No one wants their pet eating an unsafe — and potentially deadly — dog food.

Sign Up Now for Free Recall Alerts

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Dave Baker, founder and publisher of Petful, is a journalist and editor who has worked at The New York Times and The Nation magazine. He was also part of the Pulitzer Prize–winning team at The Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Petful is now based. A longtime advocate for pet food safety, Dave has been passionately tracking pet food recalls for the past decade. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from Clemson University in his home state of South Carolina. Dave has cared for a number of dogs, cats and other small pets over the years.

Don’t Miss: See why Dave from Petful thinks The Farmer’s Dog is the best new dog food in the U.S. for a happier, healthier dog: Here is his review. For cats and multi-pet households, Dave’s top pick is NomNomNow. See why here.

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