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How to Report Pet Food & Treats You Think Made Your Pet Sick

Updated on October 16, 2017
Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob has been in the pet supply business and writing about pets, livestock and wildlife in a career that spans three decades.


Make A Report Over The Internet or By Phone

There are two FDA entities that you can report to, one at the federal level and one at the state level, but before you do, read this entire article so you'll be prepared for when you do make the call.

The officials you interact with will require a lot of information, and if you aren't prepared for that it will be a waste of everyone's time.

One is the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and you can report to them electronically by logging on to FDA's Safety Reporting Portal, or you can phone your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators.

Be Prepared To Provide A Lot of Information

The FDA is investigating illnesses purported to be linked to pet jerky treats made in China, and the cause of those illnesses remains a mystery.

At the same time, the FDA acknowledges that many of the reported illnesses may be the result of causes other than eating jerky treats from China.

Also, since no contaminant has been found, they’re limited in what regulatory action they can take.

Now, if your pet gets sick and you think a commercially prepared food or treat was responsible, there is a proper way to report your complaint and here’s how to do it.

Whichever FDA entity you choose, be armed with this very large amount of information:

The Product Information That Officials Will Need To Know

The exact name of the product and product description as stated on the product label. Many pet owners pour their dry food into some sort of container and discard the bag or box.

A better idea is to save the bag or box because it contains vital information on the variety of pet food, the manufacturing plant, and the production date.

●The type of container the product was in. Was it a bag, box, can, pouch, blister pack, shrink-wrapped, etc.

●Storage instructions on the package. Was it supposed to be kept refrigerated, frozen, or stored at room temperature.

The Lot Number. This is often a series of numbers and/or letters stamped or embossed on the packaging. It’s often difficult to read because it’s sometimes applied to a moving target and often ends up distorted.

And embossing is usually hard to read, anyway. If the product has an expiration date or a best by date, the lot number is usually near that.

This important information identifies the manufacturing facility and the date of manufacture. In some cases it may even identify shifts or individual workers.

●The expiration date on the product. Some manufacturers use an expiration date, others use a “best by” “best if sold by” or “best if consumed by” date.

●The UPC code. Also known as a bar code, the Universal Pricing Code is that series of bars with numbers beneath them that the cashier scans when ringing up your purchases.

The net weight of the product. Don’t just say, “The tuna fish sized can” or “The medium sized bag.”

● The purchase date and the exact location where you bought it. All of the big box stores and many independent retailers have multiple locations and officials will need to know which store you got the product from.

● The results of any lab tests performed on the product. If you brought the product to your vet or, perhaps a university, and tests were performed on it, officials will need to know what tests were done and what the results were.

● Your handling of the product. How it was stored and prepared.

● The problem with the product. Did it have an off odor or color, was the can or pouch swollen, was it leaking?

How much of the “suspect” product was consumed from the package and how much you still have?

The reason you suspect the pet food caused the illness.

Your Pets' Information That Officials Will Need To Know

● The species, breed, sex and weight of the pet; also if it has been spayed or neutered or if she’s pregnant.

● The previous health status of your pet, and if there are any preexisting conditions.

● Do you give your pet any other food, treats, supplements or drugs? If so, it's good to also save that packaging.

● How much of the “suspect” product your pet normally consumes and how much was consumed from the “suspect” package.

● The clinical signs exhibited by your pet. Such as vomiting, diarrhea, acting lethargic, convulsions, etc. Also, how soon after consuming the product did the symptoms appear?

● Your veterinarian’s contact information. Also their diagnosis, the type and results of any lab tests performed, and your pet’s medical record.

● How many pets consuming the product exhibited clinical symptoms. Also, were there any pets that consumed the product but did not exhibit clinical symptoms.

● Whether your pet spends time outdoors, unsupervised.

Got all that? I guess it would be helpful if you printed this article and kept it where you keep other health information or records. If you contact officials and can’t provide all the information they need, it compromises the quality of the investigation and wastes time.

If you do provide a thorough and complete report it’s a tremendous help to their probe and they’ll truly appreciate your effort.

By the way, you can sign up on the FDA web site for email alerts from the agency about a variety of issues.

© 2012 Bob Bamberg


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    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Christine, nice to have you stop by. Thanks for the tip about the email alert. I'll edit this hub, and the other one I wrote on FDA's efforts to find a link between jerky treats and dogs getting ill.

      Your problem with the Canidae product underscores the fact that problems can happen to the best of them. I owned a feed and grain store when the big recall of 2007 hit, but none of the brands I stocked were involved. We didn't sell any grocery brands...just the super premiums and holistics, including Canidae.

      I remember the reps from several brands telling me that, "There, but for the grace of God, goes us," because they knew that a bad batch of ingredients could end up in their plants, too.

      Even folks who prepare their own dog food share the same risks. It's common now for meat, vegetables, and even eggs to be recalled from supermarkets...which is why I'm on the M&Ms and Ben & Jerry's diet :-).

      My daughter-in-law thinks the sun rises and sets on Trader Joe's, and they're in the middle of a peanut butter recall right now. It's getting so that the food supply is safe for neither man nor beast!

      Apparently your dog came through the ordeal OK, and that's the good news. Thanks, again, for stopping by and for the votes. Regards, Bob

    • Christine Miranda profile image

      Christine Miranda 5 years ago from My office.

      Another great Hub Bob. I had to do exactly what you described after my dog became sick on Canidae brand dog food back in May. He is only 14 lbs so it wouldn't have taken long for vomiting or diarrhea to turn deadly. Thanks for taking the time to provide this info for pet owners. One thing you may want to mention (or write another hub about..hint, hint) is that you can sign up with the FDA to be alerted by email when pet foods are recalled. Voted up & more!