Will the FDA Finally Investigate Why a Euthanasia Drug is in Dog Food?

Over a year ago, a pug named Talula died after eating Evanger’s canned dog food. It was later discovered that the food contained traces of pentobarbital, a sedative used to euthanize animals. Evanger’s then recalled the food, as did another company, Against the Grain, after pentobarbital was found in some of its products as well.

In more recent disturbing findings, while testing for contaminants in 62 samples of wet dog food from over 25 different brands, ABC7 in Washington, D.C., found traces of pentobarbital in nine out of 15 cans (60 percent) of Gravy Train dog food. While the amounts weren’t enough to kill the dogs eating the food, federal regulations prohibit pentobarbital in pet food.

Traces of pentobarbital can end up in pet food that’s made with meat from animals that have been euthanized – including dogs and cats. Although it’s illegal to use this drug to kill animals that are part of the food supply, there are currently no federal regulations requiring veterinarians to tag the euthanized animals. Renderers take the bodies from farms, animal shelters and other facilities. The bodies are processed and end up as ingredients in items like soap, candles, animal feed – and pet food.

Federal law prohibits what it defines as adulterated ingredients (those from animals that were not killed by slaughter) from all food for human and animal consumption. Yet the FDA knowingly breaks this law. Its canned pet food compliance policy states that pet food “consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, which is in violation of 402(a)(5) …will be considered fit for animal consumption.”

The FDA has been aware of the presence of pentobarbital in some dog food for at least 20 years. Back in 2001, it published a report with troubling test results: From March through June 1998, pentobarbital was found in samples of dry dog food from several popular brands — including Gravy Train.

Thanks to ABC7′s findings, the FDA may finally start to do something to prevent pentobarbital from ending up in pet food. In a statement to ABC7, the FDA said the following:

“There is currently no set tolerance for pentobarbital in pet food and its detection renders the product adulterated (therefore, the substance should not be present in pet foods at all). If a pet food contains pentobarbital, the FDA will investigate and take appropriate enforcement action. Today (Feb. 8, 2018), the FDA received the test results of the samples of dog food from ABC7. We plan to review the results and determine appropriate action. We also encourage consumers to report any complaints about pet food products to FDA.”

It’s probably not a good idea to hold your breath waiting for the FDA to take action. In 2007, thousands of dogs were sickened after eating chicken jerky treats. Seven years later, the FDA still hadn’t identified the cause or come up with a solution.

Gravy Train dog food is made by Big Heart Pet Foods, which also makes popular brands like Meow Mix, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance and Milo’s Kitchen. Its parent company is Smucker’s, which said in a statement to ABC7 that it is conducting a thorough investigation – not into how pentobarbital ended up in Gravy Train, but “to determine the accuracy of these results and the methodology used.”

Nevertheless, this week Smucker’s did the right thing and voluntarily withdrew 31 varieties of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy canned food from stores nationwide, ABC7 reports.

To help make sure the food you’re feeding your pet is safe, the Clean Label Project has just posted the results from tests of popular pet food brands that it did last year. (Only Gravy Train products tested positive for pentobarbital.) For further peace of mind, the nonprofit now offers certification to brands that tested negative.

Another slightly more labor-intensive way to help ensure there’s no pentobarbital in your pet’s food is to feed your dog or cat a homemade diet.

Take Action!

Now that Smucker’s has done the right thing by recalling its pet food products that tested positive for pentobarbital, please sign and share this petition urging the company to only produce dog food that meets the same legal health standard as human food.


Angel W
Angel W5 days ago

so sick


Ch B
Ch B24 days ago

Zero tolerance. Pet food companies who do not comply, and use dead animals to produce pet food, must be driven out of business. And I agree with Mark, below. No more euthanasia of healthy animals. To take an appalling, heartless, and draconian way to end this problem is short-sighted. It does nothing to stop the real issue. We can end unwanted animals. Spay and neuter laws, trap, neuter, return (TNR), free spay and neuter clinics,
pet licensing with waived or reduced fees for spayed and neutered animals, ending puppy mills and back yard breeding, educating the populace - these are all things that will help prevent unwanted pets and reduce costs in the long run.

Mark Donner
Mark Donner24 days ago

I have another solution... make euthanasia of healthy or treatable pets a felony. It's a crime in most European countries and even in dirt poor countries like India. How they maintain that policy either through spay and neuter or elimination of USDA sponsored puppy mills, etc is a solution they'll have to take responsibility for. That ought to deter the mass murdering scum of the human race.

Kelly S
Past Member 25 days ago


Callie R
Callie R25 days ago


Brandy S
Brandy S25 days ago

Thanks, petition signed.

Laura R
Laura R25 days ago

Thank you.

Connie O
Connie O25 days ago

Previously signed.

Janis K
Janis K25 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

ANA MARIJA R25 days ago

.... :( Signed! Shared. Thank you.