So when we start hearing about dogs getting sick and dying, and the only common denominator is what they eat, it shakes us to our core. Even worse, it's not like the pet can tell us what's wrong. We're left guessing.
When I saw a tweet about Beneful possibly being tainted, it was late at night. But after reading comment after horrifying comment posted on Consumer Affairs.com, I woke my mother up over the phone to make sure her dog was not eating it any longer.
Lulu stopped eating Beneful a full two months before I saw the website. Mom's dachshund started on Beneful, but was now on something else. And after talking with my brothers, their dog Max is off it now.
We're lucky. Our dogs apparently didn't get bad batches of food. And Purina will not be recalling the product any time soon.
With reports of similar trouble with other pet food and treats, it's up to the pet parent to know how their pet is doing, and if their pet's food is upsetting them.
But how do you know if your pet has food poisoning?
I asked Dr. Angela Chesanek, a veterinarian with SPCA of Central Florida. She said to look for these signs:
- Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
One simple test you can make: take the food away.
"Most of these diseases are self limiting (i.e. improve on their own with removal of the contaminated diet), but a veterinarian can provide supportive care to help the pet feel better faster (fluids, antibiotics, anti-diarrhea meds, etc)."So now the question is: what should you feed your dog?
Dr. Chesanek says raw diets can cause bacterial contamination in pets too. In fact, it's much more common. And if you look at the recall list over on the Food and Drug Administration website, many dog foods have had to issue recalls, from Pedigree to Blue Buffalo.
Dr. Chesanek suggests pet owners look for foods that are trial approved by the Assocation of American Feed Control Officials. You should find the AAFCO statement on the nutrition label.
Chesanek also said that you should buy the right food for your pet's stage in life.
"I do not recommend foods labeled as ‘for all life stages’ or for both ‘growth and maintenance.' For example, a balanced puppy food should carry a label that reads: 'animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of product) provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth and reproduction.' An adult dog food should carry a label that reads: 'animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (name of product) provides complete and balanced nutrition for adult maintenance'."
I have three dog food bags in my pantry: one is a Beneful bag, one is Innova and one is Nutro. The Nutro and Innova both had AAFCO labels, but I couldn't find one on the Beneful bag.