What To Do When Your Dog Food Is Recalled
Pet food recalls can be extremely unnerving (and a tad infuriating), especially if you’re generally over-cautious and labelled a bit of a “crazy person” when it comes to what your dog eats.
When a recall occurs
Stop feeding the recalled food immediately. To be extra safe, you may want to pay close attention to the recall updates and ensure your food isn’t made in the same facility as those affected - because even if it’s not on the list, it may be added soon.
Keep a close eye on your dog during this time to observe him for any behaviour that is unusual or symptomatic of the reason for the recall - if anything happens, take him to the vet.
Most recall press releases include information on what owners should do, including contacting the company or bringing your food back to the store for a refund.
But after getting rid of the potentially contaminated food, you have a bit of a problem - no “old” food to slowly mix in with a “new” food to prevent your dog from having an upset stomach. Instead of being able to add in the new food slowly like we're always told we should, we have to start a new food cold turkey.
Your smaller, independent pet food stores can be a wealth of information. You'll likely find some very helpful staff here who can point you towards a pet food made with ingredients similar to your old food that will make the transition easier on your pet.
Once you have a similar food, give your dog a very small meal and wait a few hours. Do this frequently while watching for any adverse effects, and slowly increase the meal size while decreasing the feeding frequency back to normal meal times as your pet continues to adjust to the new food.
Switching Foods For Good
It is a personal decision whether or not to switch your dog's food permanently after a pet food recall. For the time being, you may have trouble getting your original food and have to find a temporary solution, but odds are that production will be back to normal in no time and your original brand will be readily available.
Product recalls happen all of the time with people food, but this isn't your health we’re talking about - it's your dog's - and the reality is that sometimes, our dogs eat better than we do. While we don't think twice about eating previously mass-recalled foods such as cantaloupe, pre-bagged salads, peanut butter or bean sprouts (well, maybe bean sprouts but for completely different reasons), a pet food recall definitely gives us some pause (or paws!).
It's up to you to determine if you feel the recall was adequately carried out and that "these things happen" when we manufacture food (pet and people) the way we do in this day and age. It's also up to you to determine if, now that the company’s practices - both manufacturing and general business practices - have come to light (as they always do during a recall), you still feel they are trustworthy and you want to continue to give them your business.
Many people store their dog's food in an air-tight plastic bin to keep it fresh, and then have no way of knowing if their bag of food was included in a recall because they threw out the bag long ago. If you store your food in plastic bins, cut off the production code and leave it in with the food.
In addition, always wash your dog's food bowls and the plastic bin regularly with soap and water when changing bags to prevent contamination.
There are really no ways to prevent being a victim of a food recall if you feed commercial pet food. The best thing you can do is dig as deep as you can into the manufacturer and find out who is making your dog’s food and where, as well as where they source their ingredients from and what kind of quality control measures they’ve implemented to make sure these things don’t happen - or won’t happen again.