Pentobarbital in Dog Food Never Resolved * Written By: Susan Thixton * 7-22-2010 * Categorized in: Pet Food Ingredients, Pet Food Regulations

While I understand it is challenging at best to believe the possibility that euthanized dogs and cats are rendered and become pet food and treat ingredients, the very real possibility remains. The following is further information taken from the FDA website. In 2002, the FDA published a report titled 'Risk from Pentobarbital in Dog Food'. The report states "During the 1990s, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) received reports from veterinarians that pentobarbital, an anesthetizing agent used for dogs and other animals, seemed to be losing its effectiveness in dogs.

Based on these reports, CVM officials decided to investigate a plausible theory that the dogs were exposed to pentobarbital through dog food, and that this exposure was making them less responsive to pentobarbital when it was used as a drug. In conjunction with this investigation, the Center wanted to determine if pet food contained rendered remains of dogs and cats."

I have my doubts that the CVM actually went to the extent of testing dog foods for pentobarbital simply because a few veterinarians complained that pentobarbital was losing its effectiveness.

My theory is that CVM went to this extensive testing under pressure from the pet food industry; hoping to calm consumer panic that their pets might be consuming a pet food that contains a euthanized dog or cat.

Fido having Fido for dinner was not a good publicity campaign for the booming pet food industry. A few years prior to the FDA beginning the pentobarbital testing, one of the very first stories was published about rendered dogs and cats. The article, titled What's Cookin'? was published in the Baltimore City Paper by journalist Van Smith. (the article remains on their website should you wish to read it

A few other shocking articles similar to What's Cookin'? became public information shortly thereafter. So, my guess is that the pet food industry pressured the CVM to find a way to stop the horror stories from becoming common knowledge. They succeeded in quieting major media by testing dog food and announcing that FDA/CVM testing found conclusive evidence that no dog or cat DNA was found in dog food. While this announcement was true, no dog or cat DNA was clinically discovered in dog food, it is far from the whole story.

The earlier (2002) studies of pentobarbital in dog food, "did not address the central question of the source of the pentobarbital it dog food. It has been presumed that pentobarbital was present in these dog food samples because euthanized animals, such as dogs, cats, and horses, might be included with other animal-byproducts used in preparing dog food. However, this presumption was difficult to test due to the limitations of existing analytical methods. Therefore, CVM scientists developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based approach to identify species-specific products that might be present in dog food." In this follow up test published in the FDA Veterinarian Newsletter January/February 2004, the FDA states the three possible sources of pentobarbital would be rendered euthanized dogs, cats, and or horses.

Their testing was searching for dog DNA, cat DNA, or horse DNA. Their findings - No dog DNA was found, No cat DNA was found, and No horse DNA was found. "The PCR results on the species of origin in the various dog food samples do not support a single point source of protein for the origin of the pentobarbital. While the results of this study narrow the search for the source of pentobarbital, it does not define the source (i.e., species) responsible for the contamination." The DNA testing performed by the CVM did find bovine (cow), swine, and/or sheep DNA in dog foods, but again, their testing found no species source of pentobarbital. Cows, pigs, and sheep are rarely euthanized with pentobarbital. On one hand the FDA/CVM tells us that pentobarbital discovered in dog food would originate in euthanized dogs, cats, or horses. On the other hand, because the CVM testing found no dog, cat, or horse DNA in their testing, they made the profound statement no pets are rendered into pet food based on inconclusive testing.

To date, there is no clinical evidence to refute suspicions, hidden video, and personal accounts that euthanized dogs, cats, and possibly horses are rendered and become pet food ingredients.

To date, pet owners nor the FDA knows exactly how the lethal drug pentobarbital gets into pet food. The one thing that is certain, is that any dog food, cat food, or pet treat that contains pentobarbital would be a clear violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Strange that the FDA, the Federal organization handed the responsibility of enforcing the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, would not have immediately demanded all dog foods that tested positive for pentobarbital be recalled deemed adulterated by Federal law.

Again, ingredients at most risk to contain pentobarbital (and thus a euthanized animal) are meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat, and animal digest. Wishing you and your pet(s) the best, Susan Thixton Truth about Pet Food Petsumer Report, Tune in to our latest contest to win one of these horse rugs,

Sign up for the newsletter at the website and get all the great information hot off the press that Susan sends out.