Friday, September 21, 2012

Six signs of food poisoning in pets, and preventing it too

Making sure our pets get good food is tough enough today. There are so many varieties, and there are so many reasons a dog might not want to eat the food you give them.

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, 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:
  1. Lethargy 
  2. Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
  3. Fever
  4. Vomiting
  5. Decreased appetite
  6. Abdominal pain
These are all symptoms the dogs who got sick on Beneful showed. Of course, these could be symptoms for any number of illnesses. Dr. Chesanek suggests bringing a stool sample to help in the diagnosis when you can go to the vet.

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.


  1. I just tweeted this...thanks for sharing this important info!

  2. We Tweeted too... very important for everyone to know. Thanks for the article :) ~Dog Paws

  3. Thanks for the info, my parents feed their dog Beneful and he's been having the worst ear infections. Their vet said that the food was fine to feed him, but his coat doesn't look good either.

    1. We got really lucky, because all of my family's dogs eat Beneful, but we gradual pulled our dogs off it. We never had serious problems with. My brother even bought his Beneful from Walmart, and that seems to be one of those connecting factors.

  4. I have been feeding my two dogs beneful for a long time. One dog has cancer (though I am not implying they are linked) however the other has not been eating regally for almost a month and a half. As for the last week neither will eat the food. It does not appear to be a lack of appetite as both dogs will eat just about anything and everything else. This includes picking grains of rice out of the dog food. I have been wondering if the food has changed?! I often cone home to a mess, but I assumed it was the chemo. I will change the food immediately but has anyone seen their dogs refusing to eat but not a loss of appetite?

    1. It's an excellent question. I read posts on the Consumer Affairs post just today. No one specifically said that, but they did say they would feed their dogs chicken and rice instead of Beneful and they would eat it. That to me implies that the dogs have the appetite, and are just avoiding the Beneful.

      I suggest trying just cooked, skinless chicken and rice for a couple of days, and then try Nutro. My dog is on it and she likes it a lot. I'm not getting any money from them or anything, I'm just saying it because everyone compliments Lulu on how good she looks and she loves the food.

      I hope your cancer patient pulls through. *pawcircle*


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