Pentobarbital in dog food is not a new thing.  In fact, if you follow pet news and stories, you might have heard of a company that had to recall pet food because of pentobarbital contamination.

What is pentobarbital?

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate used for both veterinary and human medicine as a sedative.

The uses of pentobarbital in veterinary medicine

Mostly, vets use pentobarbital when performing euthanasia since you need only small amounts of the drug to suppress heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure that ultimately cause failure of vital nutrient and oxygen delivery to vital organs such as heart, brain, liver, kidney, and lungs and later death.

In other times, vets use pentobarbital for sedation. However, this use is no longer popular since more effective and safer drugs have replaced pentobarbital. Additionally, there is a chemical relation between pentobarbital and phenobarbital that is used for emergency treatment of seizures in pets.

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What will happen if a dog takes Pentobarbital in dog food?

If your dog takes pentobarbital in treats or food there are several severe and potentially life threatening reactions that might occur. Larger pentobarbital volumes will lead to more severe clinical symptoms

  • Salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in stool
  • Reduced appetite
  • Depression/lethargy
  • Difficulty walking
  • Neurologic issues such as seizures, tremor, abnormal eye movements
  • Coma
  • Collapse
  • Death

We can all agree that pentobarbital should never be included in pet treats or food. If your pet shows any of the above signs after taking dog foods, you should call your vet immediately.

How does pentobarbital get into the pet food supply chain?

There is a likelihood that pentobarbital likely entered the number of ingredients that make pet foods because of animals being euthanized with pentobarbital.

How you can keep your dog safe from pentobarbital exposure

You can take measures to keep your dog safe from pentobarbital by feeding treats and meals made with human-grade ingredients instead of feed-grade ones. Note that most of the commercially available pet foods have feed-grade ingredients; you need to carefully check the product label and ensure that there is the term human grade.

You can feed your dog home-prepared diet made with human-grade ingredients bought with the intentions of human consumption from a grocery store, farmers market, or butcher shop. It will ensure you have chosen non-feed grade food with minimal or no potential to have pentobarbital.

You can also avoid buying treats and foods that the FDA has recalled. Visit their website to check the list of such foods. Note that pentobarbital is not the only reason the FDA recalls pet foods. There are other reasons such as decrease or increase in vitamin, bacterial contamination, increases in non-protein nitrogen among others. For this reason, you will be doing your dog a favor when you check the list of recalled products. Additionally, if you think your dog is experiencing side effects after taking any commercially available treat or food, you should file a pet food complaint to the FDA.

It is sad to hear about pets dying or getting sick by contaminants getting into the edible pet foods. One of the biggest scandals was when people detected small amounts of pentobarbital in caned Gravy Train dog food that J.M Smucker Company according to the FDA. As you already know, vets use pentobarbital as an anesthetic, sedative or for animal euthanasia. According to the FDA, pets that consume pet food with pentobarbital are likely to experience dizziness, drowsiness, loss of balance, excitement, inability to stand and nausea. If taken in high amounts, the drug can cause coma and death.

According to the report, test results of Gravy Train foods showed the small amounts were unlikely to pose any health risk to your pet. However, it was a violation of the law since pentobarbital should never be in pet food.

The J.M Smucker Company took responsibility and initiated a voluntary recall of specific shipments of the foods after the pentobarbital scandal. The company said they had identify the cause of the problem to be a single supplier who supplied a minor, single ingredient. According to them, they were very serious on the issue and were very disappointed with the contamination. The affected customers who bought the products could contact the company with any concerns for a refund or replacement with any product.

Can you purchase pentobarbital online?

Yes, you can purchase pentobarbital online easily. Many online vendors sell pentobarbital and other barbiturates. However, you should not use this pentobarbital in any food products. Pentobarbital can be very harmful to your pet if taken in large amounts unless you are euthanizing your dog. If you are buying pentobarbital for euthanasia, ensure that you know how to do it. You can do it with the help of a vet or any animal specialist.

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There is an increase in customer demand for transparency. Consumers are now demanding for pet food brands to sell products free from drugs such as pentobarbital. Pentobarbital in dog food has happened before. Although the amount in the food products might be small, the long-term effects of these drugs might be very severe. Always ensure that your pet is taking safe food products that do not contain any euthanasia products. You can ensure this by doing a proper research on the product you want to feed your dog before making a purchase. There are many safe and genuine products out there.