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Dog Food Recalls – Definition, Lists, Risks & FAQ

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Wednesday 26 June 2019
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
dog food recalls
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Dog food recalls do happen when a certain dog food product contains some kind of contamination. But what exactly are they and where to find lists of such recalls?

Recalled dog foods and treats are potentially harmful for consumption and should not be used for feeding your pet. In this article, we are going to discuss everything related to dog food recalls and how you can deal with them.

What is a Dog Food Recall?

Dog food recalls are emergency-like situations wherein dog food from a certain brand are found to be contaminated or unfit for consumption due to some reason. As a result, they are called back through a public announcement.

When there is a recall of the pet food in question, it takes place in the reverse order of the usual supply chain. A usual supply chain goes like this:

Manufacturer –> Distributor –> Wholesaler –> Retailer –> Consumer

A recall involves informing the consumer of the contamination in the bag of dog food and eventually sending it back to the manufacturer through the reverse supply pipeline.

This is a dangerous situation because if your dog happens to consume the recalled dog food, they may get terribly sick. In a worst-case scenario, your dog might even die from poisoning.

Generally, a dog food recall happens due to salmonella, or other bacterial and viral contaminations. It can also occur because of elevated levels of vitamins and minerals in the food, which can be harmful to dogs. Dog food recalls have also been the result of defective food, or discovery of foreign objects or substances in the final product.

Why are some dog foods recalled?

There are a number of factors as to why a dog food recall must take place. Following are some of the common reasons why some dog foods and dog treats get recalled:

Salmonella Contamination

Salmonella infections in dogs spread through raw meat (e.g. poultry), eggs, milk, and poultry. Dog food companies that make raw meats for dogs or make use of raw meats in their dry kibbles are usually at a high risk of food recalls.

Unfortunately, you get to know about the contamination only after some dogs have already caught the infection. Salmonella is a fatal disease and some of its first symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting.

E. Coli Contamination

E. Coli or Escherichia Coli is also a food-borne disease that spreads through raw meats and feces. If the dog food in question contains raw meat or has become contaminated through the mixing of contaminated products in the food, it may pass on to the dogs eating the said food.

The worst part about E. Coli is that once it infects your pet, it also turns your pet into a carrier for the disease

Listeria Contamination

Listeriosis, like Salmonella, is a food-borne disease, which spreads through raw fish, stale or prepackaged foods, deli meats, etc. So dog foods that contain fish and carry Listeria-containing bacteria must go through a recall. While listeriosis is rare in dogs, it is quite threatening. Also, dogs often consume foods that potentially carry this disease.

Elevated levels of Vitamins and Minerals

An excess of Vitamin D in dog food can make your pet very sick, causing kidney failures. So when dog foods contain more than permissible levels of Vitamin D, a recall is required.

Meat and fish sometimes contain a high concentration of copper. Elevated or excess copper in foods for dogs can potentially cause liver failure. If the amount of copper exceeds a certain limit, it has to be recalled. If your dog is feeding on foods high in copper, you may see symptoms like increased thirst, loss of appetite and in severe cases even jaundice.

Low Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Levels

Dog food recalls do not just take place owing to excess of vitamins. Sometimes, when the dog food in question lacks certain levels of vitamins then that too accounts for a recall.

Canned foods are at the highest risk of recall due to low vitamin levels. If your dog’s diet does not meet the required amount of Thiamin, it may result in an untimely death. It is a serious deficiency that can cause a lot of silent health complications that will show up just suddenly.

Defective Food 

Finding bits of plastic that mixes up with the food during the processing is not uncommon. Generally, factories manufacture and process dog food, involving a lot of manpower efforts. In such a scenario, errors are inevitable.

About 23 brands across the US faced dog food recalls in 2018 alone. Over 55 different types of dog food flavors and types went back to the manufacturers for various reasons. But the most common reasons were either Salmonella or Listeria Contamination. In January 2019 only, we are already at two food recalls and two written warnings to companies.

reasons why dog foods get recalled
Most dog food recalls are caused by a bacterial contamination.

What details do recalls contain to inform customers?

The following are the details that must go out during a food recall, without fail:

  1. Brand Name – the name of the brand and maybe a picture or the logo are must in the communication – so that there is no confusion.
  2. Date of Recall – it is important to factor in the date of the food recall announcement so that people can gauge if they need to send back the product in their house or not.
  3. Food/Product – Informing about the exact product that is facing the recall.
  4. Batch Number – the batch number of that particular batch of food that goes through the recall is very important. This is for easier identification of the defective product.
  5. Manufacturing Date – in case the batch number fails to identify, as a backup, the manufacturing date must appear in the food recall information.
  6. Best Before Date – the best before date is important as a third fallback, in case the manufacturing date and the batch number is difficult to identify (due to torn or scratched packages).
  7. Type of Contamination/Defect – lastly, the type of contamination or the reason for the food recall must be there at all times. This is to alert the consumers of its gravity.

Communication during a food recall is a debatable topic although it is getting better every day. During a food recall, it is essential that the communication goes out fast and clear, so that consumption can be stalled before it’s too late.

Where can I find a list of the latest pet food recalls?

A number of websites offer information on dog food recalls and the brands that have faced a recall over the years. These are especially helpful when you want to choose the right brand for your pet. These are also crucial to simply keep yourself updated on the latest on the dog food front.

Most of these platforms offer email or text alerts whenever a new recall is officialized.

Dog Food Advisor

Dog Food Advisor offers immediate and timely information on all the recalls that have taken place this year. Not just that, this website offers to send you free alerts when there is a new recall. So that you don’t have to stay alert and cautious all the time. A simple sign up can avail you either an email alert or even an alert on the phone, every time there is a new dog food recall.

The format of the website is also very user-friendly. They have organized the recalls in a list format. There are also images and graphics to explain each product better. They offer clear information about which ingredient caused the food recall.

All in all, it is excellent for those who are looking to dive deeper into the world of food for pets.

U.S Food And Drug Administration

The US Food and Drug Administration Department has a clear, concise and detailed summary of every dog food recall. The summary also includes the recalls that are in the process of happening. It is also one of the easiest ways to understand the list of food recalls.

There is a table format, containing the date of recall, brand name, product description and the problem with the product. By doing so, they have made it super easy for you to identify if your product is on the list. They have also added a keyword search, making it easier to simply check if your product is on the list or not.

The table also contains a link to each product, wherein you can see the problem right at the root level.

American Veterinary Medical Association

The AVMA sources its information from the FDA website and puts it in almost the same format. So there isn’t a great difference.

However, as the official veterinary association, the AVMA website also has a horde of other information. You can use this for other purposes apart from dog food recalls. They have a lot going on and you can use it as a one-stop destination for all your pet health knowledge needs.


The Petful website also offers alerts and updates of recalls, if you agree to sign in. Apart from food recall updates they also offer life-saving tips for pets. The format of the website is fairly simple and it offers an excellent insight into the recalls that are carried out.

Petful has a super easy user interface, for the only reason that they also show pictures of the recalled dog food, making them easier to identify. You may get a little confused between whether you bought a can of turkey for your dog or was it beef – but the picture will more or less wrack your memory better.

They have also identified brands, which have been given a warning letter, for those who want an extra hint of caution.

identify recalled dog food batch or lot
Make sure you identify your dog food’s SKU, lot code, and date to confirm it belongs to a recalled batch.

Which dog food brand has never been recalled?

Brands like Blackwood, Fromm and Life’s Abundance are mostly family run with the makers taking a keen interest in the process. They believe in small-batch preparations. This ensures utmost safety and hygiene, making them completely recall-free. 

Earthborn Holistic relies on small-batch packaging, to take care of the hygiene.

VeRus and Holistic Select are brands that swear by the addition of freeze-dried live probiotic cultures to fight the bacteria that cause contamination. Just like these keep your gut healthy, they also add an extra layer of protection to the food.

Dog food brands like Annamaet and Now Fresh credit their recall-free product to their strict quality checks. They check every little batch of food they make so that everything that goes out is quality controlled.

Brands like Zignature rely on low glycemic index food ingredients to process the dog food that ensures that there is no scope for contamination while dog food brands like Eagle Pack, Nature’s Logic solely relies on natural ingredients to make the food safe and healthy to eat. Precise Holistic goes a step further to ensure each food product belted out is safe, by processing it all in-house.

There are a few things that the brands that have never been recalled have in common. They are:

  • made or packed in small batches,
  • free of artificial preservatives, and
  • manufactured with ingredients that have a low GI.

Some others ensure freshness and safety by adding natural probiotics and prebiotics to the actual mix.

Should I trust a brand that has a recall in the past?

To trust or not to trust is a personal decision and is very subjective. But you need to take a call based on what the product is offering. If the dog food in question is also loaded with carbs and has an ingredient list that is chock-a-block with artificial flavorings and preservatives, it is never a good idea. 

Any product that has been recalled in the past would already have a negative point to its credit. To be able to trust the product again, you need to make sure that they have tightened their quality checks this time, after being slapped with notice once.

Consumption of defective dog food can be very dangerous for your pets otherwise. See if they have done anything to prove themselves, after the recall and only then, go ahead.

How do I report a dog food for recall?

If you’re going to report the dog food, you need to make a strong case as to why you’re doing so. You need all the evidence intact. The report can be made directly to the US Food and Drugs Administration.

In order to report a dog food or treat to the FDA, you will definitely need the following:

  • Description of the product – Describe if you found the product in an unusual state – if the package was puffed, leaking or there was something wrong with it before you opened it.
  • Contents – If the package was fine, was there any foul odor or anything unusual about the texture or consistency of the product.
  • Details of the purchase – You will need exact details of when and where you purchased this from and when you opened it. Bills are an added bonus if you’ve saved them. You will also need the packaging it came in. If you have been emptying your dog food in a box, it might create a problem because it will be mooted, if the contamination happened in the box.
  • Complete Product Details – Even if you have saved the packaging, you will need important information like the product’s batch number, manufacturing date, expiry date, etc.
  • Sickness – If you want to report a product that made your dog sick, you will need laboratory diagnostics and details of how much of the product was consumed, when and how. You vet’s contact information will also be needed apart from other details.

The report can be made online on the FDA website or by making a phone call to the FDA Consumer Complaint Line

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