The most common reasons for a dog food recall are ingredient contamination and failure to provide adequate nutrition. Pet food companies may voluntarily withdraw products from the market before a recall happens in the interests of protecting pets from injuries. People can look up the recall database at the government agency in charge of regulating food safety, like the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, to determine if any of their dog food has been subject to recent recall. It is important to note date and batch numbers carefully, as it is unusual for a whole line of products to be recalled, with companies usually removing part of a product line from the shelves for safety.
Contamination can occur in a number of ways. A common problem is bacterial or fungal contamination, where a problem with handling at some point on the production line introduces an infectious organism. If animals eat the food, they may get sick. Salmonella is a common culprit, but other organisms can be involved as well. Pet food companies use regular line testing to make sure their food is safe, and will issue a dog food recall if samples from any batch show signs of bacterial contamination.
Non-food ingredients can also contaminate pet food. Sometimes fillers are added, often by suppliers acting as subcontractors to meet the need for specific ingredients. These fillers may be hazardous to animal health, and could result in a dog food recall. In 2007, for example, there were a number of high profile recalls of pet food contaminated with melamine, a compound toxic to the kidneys of cats and dogs.
Nutrition can also be a concern. Pet food labeling carries nutrition statements, and foods need to contain an appropriate mixture of vitamins and minerals. If the food is not nutritionally balanced, it can pose a severe risk to animal health, as some animals are fed exclusively on packaged food and need to meet all their nutritional needs from the food. A company may issue a dog food recall if the nutritional composition of the food does not match the claims made on the label.
When a pet food company identifies defective dog food and issues a dog food recall, it will publish information to help consumers determine whether their food is part of the recall. People who return food will receive a refund. Pet owners who have already been feeding the food may want to consult their veterinarians to determine if any additional action needs to be taken.