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MU veterinary toxicologist offers advice on recent dog food recalls

March 09, 2018

Story Contact(s):
Jeff Sossamon,, 573-882-3346

COLUMBIA, Mo. – According to recent reports, more than 107 million cans of dog food have been recalled because they contained trace amounts of pentobarbital, the tranquilizer used to put down sick or injured animals. Tim Evans, an associate professor of veterinary pathobiology and head of toxicology in the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (VMDL) at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, stresses that while no measurable concentrations of pentobarbital should be in these products, pet owners should monitor resources for updates and notices for pet food recalls.

“The FDA plays a key role in preventing these situations and in protecting our pets when these situations arise,” Evans said. “For the last couple of years, I have been trying to disseminate information on what veterinarians and their clients can do when they suspect a pet food contamination. I firmly believe that the nutritional and health benefits of commercially manufactured pet foods, especially those manufactured by companies with a long history of dedication to pet nutrition and health, continue to greatly outweigh the low risks of contamination in these products.”

Evans says tools and resources are available for consumers to stay informed of pet food recalls such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA). Pet owners can sign up for pet food alerts and notices at their websites here and here.

“These resources will include information about manufacturer lot numbers and UPC item codes that will help owners pinpoint the food they might have purchased and whether they should monitor their pets’ behaviors and health,” Evans said. “Of course, if you see any changes in your pets’ health, contact your veterinarian immediately.”

Evans notes that in Missouri, the Department of Agriculture and its Bureau of Feed, Seed, and Treated Lumber, as well as the state veterinarian, play valuable roles in protecting Missouri’s pets and livestock from adulterated feeds.

Evans teaches clinical and diagnostic toxicology and presents lectures on poisonous plants. His research interests include developmental and reproductive toxicology and pathology. He is a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists and a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicologists.

As a Tier I Laboratory in the FDA Veterinary Investigation Response Network (VET-LRN), the MU VMDL routinely tests pet food samples for mycotoxins (fungal toxins) and bacterial contamination.

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