How Did a Euthanasia Drug End Up in Dog Food?

On New Year’s Eve, Nikki Mael of Washougal, Wash., fed her four pugs Evanger’s Hunk of Beef Au Jus canned dog food. Within 15 minutes the dogs began “acting drunk,” she said. They staggered around, having difficulty keeping their balance.

Mael rushed them to an emergency animal hospital. One pug, Talula, died. The other dogs survived, but one of them suffered from seizures.

A necroposy performed on Talula found large amounts of pentobarbital, a sedative used to euthanize animals and execute humans, in her stomach. Pentobarbital was also found in the dog food.

Earlier this month, Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. announced a voluntary recall of one lot of Hunk of Beef Au Jus out of what it called an abundance of caution. The company said it sources all of its raw materials from USDA-inspected facilities.

“We feel that we have been let down by our supplier, and in reference to the possible presence of pentobarbital, we have let down our customers,” it stated on its website. “Despite having a relationship for 40 years with the supplier of this specific beef, who also services many other pet food companies, we have terminated our relationship with them.”

A week later, another dog food company, Against the Grain, also announced a voluntary recall of one lot of its Pulled Beef with Gravy Dinner for Dogs, distributed two years ago, because it could also contain pentobarbital. According to Food Safety News, both Evanger’s and Against the Grain may be owned by members of the same family.

Trace Amounts of Pentobarbital Not Uncommon in Dry Dog Food

How did a euthanasia drug end up in dog food? Believe it or not, trace amounts are not exactly uncommon in pet food, based on a 2001 FDA report. Tests conducted at the time discovered pentobarbital in samples of dry dog food from familiar brands like Nutro, Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘n Bits and Ol’Roy (sold by Walmart).

“We were unaware of the problem of pentobarbital in the pet food industry because it is most pervasive in dry foods that source most of their ingredients from rendering plants, unlike Evanger’s, which mainly manufactures canned foods that would not have any rendered materials in its supply chain,” the company stated on its website.

In response to criticism of Evanger’s on social media, corporate secretary Brett Sher and his twin sister Chelsea appeared in a video posted on the company’s website. In it they say that pentobarbital can be found in dry pet foods made with meat from cows that have been euthanized, and there are currently no regulations that require veterinarians to tag the meat.

The Sher siblings said the death of Talula and the sickening of the other dogs has inspired them to advocate for more oversight and regulation of how slaughtered animals enter the animal-food stream. Evanger’s paid the veterinary bills for Mael’s five pugs and made a donation to a local shelter in Talula’s memory.

Watch What Your Dog Eats

According to, Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. manufactures food for other pet food companies. The company uses a unique semi-circle shape instead of a straight line for the lot code stamps on cans, which makes it easy for dog owners to determine if a particular brand was manufactured by Evanger’s.

When it’s ingested, pentobarbital can cause symptoms including drowsiness, dizziness, excitement and loss of balance. If your dog shows any of these signs after eating, rush your pet to your veterinarian or closest emergency animal hospital right away.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Kelly S
Past Member about a year ago


natasha p
.about a year ago

poison is in dog and cat food

Marie W
Marie W2 years ago

Thanks for posting.

rosario p.
rosario p.2 years ago

The latest news is it was found Horse DNA. The FDA report found that 50% of the food analyzed contained traces of Pentobarbital or Euthonal and according to their guideline, specially for can food, pet food manufacturers make no violation of federal law including animals dead OTHERWISE than slaughter to be prosecuted.

Ruth M
Ruth Mandelbaum2 years ago

heck out Evermore Food for dogs. The two women who own and run this company have their food made in a USDA kitchen where they use only grass fed beef, antibiotic free chicken (all meat is from humanely raised animals), cage free eggs and an array of other organic carefully sourced ingredients. Even if you are a home cooker, unless you are able to take the time and care involved in sourcing, this is as close to being assured of food quality as you can get.

rosario p.
rosario p.2 years ago

I am so sorry for Talula and the others this goes first!!!!!!
Have you seen in videos HOW meat animals are horrendous killed? Not with pentobarbital. I assure you you would NEVER eat meat again.
PETS are killed with this drug. HOW comes this drug in Meat of alimentary consumption ..... well it is pretty clear. It was pointed by a few others before and Loran says a great truth. Have you forgotten Dioxins, Furans, Prions , remember,Bovine spongiform and so goes on. The demand is bigger and bigger and for some unscrupulous food companies, distributors, veterinarians ,breeders and who else is in this chain it is very profitable. But...........will it becomes one day like in Richard Fleischer s - his last name means butcher in german, fits here - film SOYLENT GREEN with Charlton Heston and a great Edward G. Robinson who reveals a terrible secret at the end of the movie..........we are billions to feed.

Barbara P
Barbara P2 years ago

The company for the cat food I used to buy had so many recalls that Canada rejected it from being brought over the border. I will never again use a product that knowingly has frequent recalls, especially not a recall as serious as this. One of the current foods I buy has never had a recall in its history on the market and the other 2 have had a minor recall in their history, but nothing too serious, so I still use their brands. I don't buy canned food for my dog though, I cook for her instead.

Loran Watkins
Loran Watkins2 years ago

TO those of you who think they were irresponsible or are now untrustworthy - where do you think YOUR food comes from? And unless you kill it yourself do you REALLY know how your meat was killed?? These people did everything they possible could after this incident. They were as caught off guard as everyone else. The bottom line is the meat you ALL eat is tainted, the only difference is to what degree.
Want to make sure your food is safe? Grow your own or buy from farmers markets. Want to make sure the animals you eat are treated well and killed decently? Grow and kill your own. Until you're willing to do that there are no guarantees, you are depending on an imperfect system to keep you 'safe' and yet most of you don't even know what is considered 'safe'. If you really knew you would probably give up meat. Go check it out.
Yeah....pretty bad huh?

earthism info
earthism info2 years ago

prefer animal food products from a reputed company only

Winn A
Winn A2 years ago

Be cautious too and make sure the food continues to be safe. Companies sometimes get sold and food formulas change.