Saturday, February 17, 2018

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Pentobarbital in Dog Food, Bromethalin Poisoning, and more ...

Dog Food Potentially Contaminated with Pentobarbital Euthanasia Solution

Dr. Justine Lee

There are many conspiracy-theory articles out there, citing euthanized animals being used in dog food. Including euthanized dogs. There has been an official statement to the fact, not disputing the possibility. So what are the odds of that happening? Pretty good, as it seems, based on this announcement, and depending on the brand/manufacturer.

"Pets that eat pet food containing pentobarbital can experience drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner) and inability to stand. Consuming high levels of pentobarbital can cause coma and death. However, pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products is at a low level unlikely to pose a health risk to pets." ~FDA

The products listed in this alert are canned dog food manufactured by the J.M. Smucker Company, including certain Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy Products. (See the release.)

At least one of these foods has been on a blacklist for sickening dogs for quite some time now. There have been petitions and outcry. How many of those stories were confirmed as being due to the food is unclear. What is clear, though, that this is now an official issue.

I am not one to tell people what they should feed their dogs. But please, if you only can afford cheap brands, be extremely careful at least.

Kidney Disease – What You Need to Know

Dr. Patrick Mahaney/Honest Kitchen blog

There are some organs in the body a dog can spare and live. A kidney is actually one of them, a dog could live with one functioning kidney. But a dog cannot live with no functional kidney(s). The kidneys perform vital functions, without which survival is impossible. These include blood detoxification, regulation of water and other vital substances, even hormone production.

There are a number of things that can injure the kidneys, and the injury can be acute or chronic. Learn about why functional kidneys are important, what can go wrong and how kidney disease is diagnosed and treated in Dr. Patrick's article.

Bromethalin Intoxication in Dogs & Cats – Not Your Typical Rodenticide

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

In the good ol' days, rodenticides contained anticoagulants, chemicals that prevent blood clotting, resulting in fatal bleeding. The good news for a potentially poisoned dog (and I guess even for the rat was she taken to a veterinarian) is that this is treatable with transfusion and a vitamin K.

Since then, though, manufacturers are getting more and more creative with their choice of poison. And these things do not have an antidote. Why would somebody put out a poison that doesn't' have an antidote beats me.

Bromethalin is a chemical that attacks particularly the nervous system and liver by shutting down their batteries, disrupting their energy production. Because a huge amount of energy is needed for the brain to function, without it, the brain swells uncontrollably which eventually leads to death. Nice, huh? Did I mention there is no knows antidote for this? To me that is unconscionable.

I think these products should be banned. Keep your dog away from such things the best you can. And if your dog gets into something like that, remember that time is of the essence if you want to save your dog's life.

Extreme Heartworm-ing: Frida’s survival story

Dr. Karen Louis/VetChick

Heartworm is one of the things that scares the daylights out of me. Heartworm infection is a disease that is horrible, with a treatment which is equally horrific. As much as I hate giving my dogs any unnecessary meds, heartworm preventive is one I always give religiously.

In her article, Dr. Louis shares her personal journey with a heartworm-positive rescue, Frida, who suffered caval syndrome. Caval syndrome is a life-threatening complication of heartworm infection; it can kill a dog within 48 hours, and the only solution is prompt surgery to manually remove the worms.

Read Frida's story as described by Dr. Louis.

What is the Most Important Thing You Can Do for Your Pet's Health

Dr. Joanna Paul/CreatureClinic

I love how this article pinpoints the one most important thing, the thing I keep talking about too, paying attention. Simple, isn't it? It is, and it is not.

Paying attention doesn't mean just "being there," doesn't mean just "looking," it means "seeing." Have you ever gone to a place with somebody and couldn't find your way again the next time? And I'm sure it wasn't for the lack of noticing the sights and shop windows and whatever else was along the way. It was for the lack of paying attention and putting things in perspective.

It's important to know what to look for and what you're looking at. So many things can provide important clues to your dog's well-being if you know how to "see" them. Mood, energy levels, the way your dog moves or even stands, breathes, changes in their weight, appetite, thirst, elimination habits ... The main clue here is CHANGE. Has something changed? Why?

In order to notice a change, you need to pay attention to what is normal.

And if you really want to get diligent, learn how to assess your dog's vital signs. Check out Dr. Paul's article for this vital information.


  1. Thanks for bringing all of this information to one place for a quick review of what is truly important for the health of our pets!

  2. Good Lord, these are terrifying articles, particularly the first one! I literally just heard something about some kind of "poison" in pet food but didn't have the detsils. I'm stunned & angry that any pet food company would knowingly allow that! How could they devastate families like that?! Thank you for sharing this Jana, you're always a great resource.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. In all fairness, there is no evidence this was done knowingly. But it is still quite bad.