How to Report a Pet Food Complaint

In this time of so many pet food recalls, “How do I report this?” is one of the most common questions I am asked when an owner believes their dog was harmed by a food. Most people do not know who to report to, how to do it, and what proof is required.

The single most important part of reporting a pet food complaint is having accurate information about the food. This starts with the brand, formula, bag/package size, lot number, expiration date, and other details. All of this information can be found on the packaging — SO NEVER DISCARD THE BAG OR PACKAGE!

Many owners dump their dry food into a bin or similar container. Then they throw out the bag! Now they have no hope of knowing what they are feeding their dog. Instead, use a container which will accommodate the food in the bag.

The packaging will contain all the info you need. Brand, formula, size, lot number, expiration date, and bar code. You will also need to note when and where you purchased it, and how it was handled, fed, and stored.

Brand, formula. and size need to be noted.

Next you will describe the problem you observed. Include all details about your dog, including past medical history. Describe the signs your dog showed after eating the food, what medical care you sought, any testing that was done, etc. You may want to enlist your veterinarian’s help in this. And of course you will need to provide medical records and contact information for your veterinarian.

You will start your report at this FDA page.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the Safety Reporting Portal. You will read there that manufacturers and certain professionals are required by law to submit safety reports.

Beyond submitting your report online, there are a few other things you should do. First, retain a sample of the suspect food(s). You may be requested to submit samples for testing, but be sure to retain some. You may also want to visit the store where you purchased it, and see if any of the same lot number is available. Purchase it, keep the receipt with it, and of course do not open it.

Should your dog require medical care, be sure to tell your veterinarian you suspect a food related problem. Ask what laboratory testing is appropriate, and have it performed. Should your pet pass away, a full post-mortem exam, including testing of digestive tract contents, may be your only proof of the cause. This is best done at a university or specialty facility by a boarded pathologist.

Consider consulting an attorney. While that may seem extreme, the experience of one dog owner will help you understand why I suggest this. If your dog’s illness or loss was proven to be caused by the food, you will need legal help to press your claim. It could also help get the product recalled, so no other dog is affected.

Finally, with all the recalls that are occurring across the various types of pet foods, a consumer must be aware. Follow the website Truth About Pet Food for the latest news and recalls. The FDA also has a page that includes livestock feeds and drugs as well as pet foods.

Hopefully, your dog will never suffer any adverse effect from a commercial food. But if he does, it is vital that it is correctly and promptly reported.

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