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tainted love: petplan pet insurance presents the most common causes of pet food recall

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan

We strive to feed our pets the best food that we can, but every once in a while, the food we feed can become accidentally tainted or have other complications.  Thankfully, last week the FDA launched a new website that compiles food recall notices.  The site, found at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/, profiles both human food and pet food and treats in a searchable table, and you can sign up to receive recall and safety alerts.

This new site is fabulous.  It lists the specific food and the reason for the recall, as well as a picture of the packaging to spark your memory.  If you’ve ever been involved in a pet food recall, you know how scary it can be. 

Some food recall cases are more serious than others, depending on the reason it was recalled.  Let’s go over a few of the most common causes of recall:


Salmonella

This is by far one of the most common reasons for both pet food and human food recalls.  I think we are all pretty familiar with Salmonella and may know someone who has suffered from Salmonellosis.  As with humans, dogs and cats with Salmonellosis have severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and sepsis. 


Vitamin deficiencies or toxicities

Sometimes errors in manufacturing lead to too much or too little of a vitamin in your pet’s food.  Most recently, Wellness canned cat food was recalled for inadequate levels of thiamine.  Cats fed this food for a long period of time are at risk for developing a thiamine deficiency. 

If a small amount of vitamin is good, then a large amount must be good, too, right?  Not so.  When a manufacturing mistake leads to the addition of more vitamins than intended, vitamin toxicosis can occur and, depending on the vitamin, it could have fatal consequences.


Aflatoxin

Aflatoxicosis occurs when our pets have been exposed to food contaminated by fungus.    Lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea can occur, and in severe cases, liver failure, blood clotting disorders and death are the unfortunately outcome.

I’m sure we all remember the devastating recall of numerous pet foods and treats contaminated with melamine.  Thousands of our beloved pets were lost after lengthy, costly hospital stays, leading to a $24 million pet food settlement.  But, not all pet food recalls are serious or lethal.  In fact, many pet food companies voluntarily recall food before reports of illness occur.  However, all pet food recalls should be taken seriously.  If you have been feeding a food that has been recalled, discontinue the product immediately.  Read up on the possible clinical signs so that you can catch illness in your pet early.  If you ever have a question about a pet food recall, be sure to contact your veterinarian. You should also make sure you have a comprehensive pet insurance policy from Petplan in place; that way, if your pet’s dinner becomes an unexpected disaster, you can afford to get your pet the best treatment possible.

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Pippa ElliottGuest Blogger of Petplan
vet tip of the week

Visit your vet at least once a year to keep your pet protected from preventable diseases.