The Food and Drugs Administration is alerting pet owners of a major canned dog food brand contaminated with a euthanasia drug. What is pentobarbital and how might it affect pets?
Dog Food Contamination
On Friday, Feb. 16, the FDA released a statement on a potential pentobarbital contamination of several types of canned wet dog food manufactured by the J.M. Smucker Company. Evidently, certain cans of Gravy Train wet dog food tested positive for the presence of pentobarbital, a euthanasia drug.
The level of pentobarbital was found to be low and unlikely to pose serious health risks to dogs, but the FDA states that it is a drug that should never be in dog food, whether in low or high doses. As such, any can of dog food with any amount of pentobarbital is considered adulterated.
J.M. Smucker has since voluntary recalled several of their canned dog food products manufactured from 2016 to the present. These include Gravy Train, Kibbles n’ Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy.
So far, the FDA is investigating the matter and is monitoring any reports of pet sicknesses related to the contamination. Pets that are believed to have fallen ill as a result of pentobarbital contamination must immediately be brought to a veterinarian.
In a statement, J.M. Smucker identified the contamination to have come from one minor ingredient provided by a single supplier of one manufacturing facility. The company also stated its disappointment at the introduction of the drug to their supply but assures customers that it is working hard to meet or perhaps even exceed its safety standards.
Still, the FDA is conducting its own investigation into the matter, especially since the presence of pentobarbital in pet food is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Just last April, an organic pet food company also had to recall their products after testing positive for the presence of pentobarbital.
Pentobarbital In Pets
Pentobarbital is a barbiturate drug that slows down the activity in the brain and nervous system. In humans, pentobarbital is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia or as a sedative before surgery, but it may also be used to treat seizures in emergency situations. In animals, it is often used as a sedative or for euthanasia.
Pets that consume pet food with pentobarbital may experience symptoms such as drowsiness, loss of balance, dizziness, nausea, excitement, and an inability to stand. However, in large doses, pentobarbital may lead to comatose or even death. In the case of the recalled dog food, the low doses do not pose serious health risks to pets.