There will inevitably come a point in your life as a pet owner at which you happily scoop out a bowl of dog food to feed your dog, only to hear later that the particular brand or formula of dog food got recalled. Recalls can be scary for us owners—we never want to feed our beloved four-legged friends something that would hurt them, but it’s not always certain what we should do after we hear about the recall.
Last December, multiple brands of pet food were recalled in the United States for potentially toxic levels of vitamin D, causing a frenzy among some dog owners. If you ever find yourself in this situation, don’t panic! Here’s a quick guide on what you should do next.
1. Check the product:
After hearing about the recall, double check the brand and item number for the recalled food against your product. Some pet owners mistakenly believe their product was recalled and throw it all out, only to later find out it was a different product or brand. If you do own the recalled product, then you should proceed with its disposal.
2. Remove your dog’s access to the food:
If you’ve just fed your dog some of the recalled food, stop your dog from eating it and put the food in a place your dog can’t access. Do not let your dog eat any more of the food. You might need to give your dog some “human food" like grilled meat if you don’t have a way to get new food immediately. You can consult your
vet about your options if you’re not sure of what to do. It might also be helpful to keep a small amount of the food in a plastic bag in case your vet would like to test it if your dog becomes ill.
3. Observe your dog for signs of illness:
Keep a close eye on your dog for the next few days and make sure it’s not acting differently or displaying signs of poor health. The recall information should provide symptoms that affected dogs were experiencing so you know what to look for. If you suspect your dog is sick, take it into the vet for a check-up and inform your vet that your dog was eating the recalled pet food. Ask your vet about how to file a complaint with your area’s pet health and safety administration (such as the U.S. FDA).
4. Contact the pet food manufacturer:
Call the manufacturer of the food for more instructions on how to dispose of your old pet food. You may be able to return it to the store at which you bought it. The manufacturer may also issue you a refund and tell you to dispose of the food in a way in which other animals, including your dog, cannot access it and eat it.
5. Wash your food bowls:
If you were serving your pet the recalled food, make sure to wash your dog’s food bowls thoroughly so no
traces of the food remain. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly clean any food mats and the feeding area just to make sure you collected all the food and there is no cross-contamination.
6. Identify a new food for your pooch:
Switching foods suddenly is usually not recommended for pets, especially when they have an established diet and routine. A fast switch can sometimes cause gastrointestinal upset. That being said, you should never gradually change your pet’s food when there has been a recall on the old food—you will need to change it to something else immediately. Try to find a food that is similar to your dog’s old food. Ideally, it will have the same ingredients and formulas as the last one.
When switching foods, you should also be more mindful if your dog has food allergies. Make sure the new food you try does not contain any ingredients that your pet may react to. Be sure to watch your pet closely for the first few days after providing the new food to make sure it remains healthy. If you’re having trouble finding a good alternative to your old food, consult with your veterinarian.
7. Stay up-to-date:
Once you hear about a recall, it’s a good idea to continue to monitor news about it to make sure you’re keeping an eye out for the latest symptoms of affected pets and to know if more brands get recalled. Stay vigilant about identifying recalled items in the future to keep your pet safe.