There's good reason why your pet shouldn't eat anything touched by pentobarbital.
After an investigation by an ABC affiliate in Washington DC uncovered trace amounts of pentobarbital (a drug used as a sedative when euthanizing animals) in four different national pet food brands, the Food and Drug Administration launched an inquiry. Shortly after, the pet food brands' parent company, Smuckers, announced a voluntary recall for all of the foods in question.
The recall includes dog foods and treats that you probably recognize: Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits, Skippy, and Ol' Roy brands. The products affected by pentobarbital were distributed nationwide by Big Heart Pet Brands, available to all independently owned pet stores as well as a few big-box retailers. The Ol' Roy dog food, however, was exclusively sold by Walmart in more than 4,700 of its stores, according to the FDA's recall notice.
At least 31 varieties of food have been pulled from the shelves. Click here for a full list of affected products and how to check if your pet food is part of the recall. The FDA is advising pet owners to bring any recalled product back to the store for a full refund or to immediately discard.
While pentobarbital is one of many chemical sedatives used by veterinarians to euthanize animals, the FDA's investigation concluded that trace amounts of the drug wouldn't necessarily cause immediate harm to pets. That's not the case when the drug's quantity is increased, however.
"Pets that eat pet food containing pentobarbital can experience drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner) and inability to stand. Consuming high levels of pentobarbital can cause coma and death," the FDA's report said.
ABC's initial test of the now-recalled dog food revealed that Gravy Train products repeatedly tested positive for pentobarbital, a major concern—despite being a non-lethal amount—due to the fact that federal law bans manufacturers from using any amount of pentobarbital in food products.
When asked how exactly pentobarbital ended up in their products, Smuckers didn't share any particular sources of contamination, but the ABC affiliate responsible for the investigation says that the company denied using euthanized animals in production of its food.
"Smucker’s posted on its website that it does not use pets in its food," the report reads.
Pet owners are increasingly worried about the quality of the food they feed their pets—this development might be another reason for you to triple check any of the products you buy for your pet.