How safe is your pet's food?

How safe is your pet's food?


Nutro pet food has more complaints of pets getting sick and dying than any other pet food on the market.

Pet food manufacturers conduct extensive marketing campaigns to convince you that their food is the most nutritious for your pet. From colorful bags to endearing commercials, we are constantly bombarded by images of happy dogs and cats in connection with each brand. Pet food recalls are frequent and just because your brand has never been recalled does not guarantee that it is safe for your pet.

The Truth About Recalls

Blue Buffalo pet food is proud of the fact that they have never issued a recall for any of their foods. However, the 360 complaints filed against Blue Buffalo with the Department of Consumer Affairs about sick and dying pets suggest that maybe the company should reconsider that policy. In contrast, Diamond Pet Foods has only 15 complaints and responded to them immediately by identifying which shipments had made a few pets sick and recalling the specific lot of food that was produced at the same time as the contaminated food.

Publicly announcing a pet food recall has immediate consequences for the company issuing the recall. Such announcements are negative publicity for the company and may cause them to lose income if the public assumes that all of their food is contaminated. Responsible pet food companies like Diamond care more about making sure that their food is safe for pets than about the possible consequences of negative publicity.

The Top Ten

These ten pet food companies were ranked the highest in number of complaints reported to the Department of Consumer Affairs. Click on the link for each pet food to read all of the individual complaints.

1) Nutro Pet Foods with 1,482 complaints. Nutro produces Nutro and Nutro Max. Nutro pet foods are currently under investigation with the FDA.

2) Purina Pet Foods with 622 complaints. Purina produces Purina Dog Chow, Kibbles and Bits, Beneful, Friskies, Purina Naturals, Fancy Feast, Purina Pro Plan, PurinaOne and PurinaOneBeyond. Purina Beneful alone has a whopping 641 complaints.

3) Canidae Pet Food with 407 complaints. Canidae is one of the most expensive grain-free brands. They produce Canidae for dogs, Felidae for cats, and Taste of the Wild.

4) Iams Pet Foods with 404 complaints. Iams has already had one recall so far this year. Iams produces dry and canned pet food.

4) Blue Buffalo Pet Foods with 360 complaints. Blue Buffalo produces several different varieties of grain-free pet food, dog treats, and limited ingredient foods.

5) Pedigree Dog Food with 318 complaints. Pedigree produces canned and dry dog food for puppies and adults.

6) Old Roy with 269 complaints. Old Roy produces inexpensive dry food for dogs and puppies.

7) Waggin Train Treats with 180 complaints. All Waggin Train treats and chews have been recalled due to widely publicized consumer outrage over the illness and death of their pets.

8) Natural Balance with 176 complaints. Natural Balance produces several varieties of grain-free canned and dry food, as well as limited ingredient foods for pets with allergies.

9) Science Diet with 168 complaints. Science Diet dry and canned food is sold and recommended by many veterinary offices.

10) Royal Canin with 99 complaints. Royal Canin is one of the most expensive brands of cat and dog food available at PetSmart and Petco. They offer many specialty foods such as breed-specific and age-specific foods for both cats and dogs.

Finding Your Pet Food's Status

Not sure which company produces your pet's food? Just go to the Department of Consumer Affairs and type in the name of the food, such as "Fancy Feast" in the search box in the upper right corner. The site will pull up the number of complaints for the company that produces your pet food.

Evaluating the Accuracy of Complaints

In many cases it is impossible to determine whether a specific pet food or treat caused your cat or dog to become sick. Particularly for senior pets, unexpected health problems like diabetes or liver failure are common. The most legitimate complaints involve younger animals with no known health problems who suddenly become sick after changing to a new food. Keep in mind that some vomiting is normal when your pet is changing from one brand of pet food to another.

Most Common Complaints:

  • mold found in newly opened bag
  • maggots found in newly opened cans of food
  • excessive vomiting shortly after eating
  • excessive diarrhea
  • diabetes
  • liver damage
  • liver failure
  • sudden death

Best Priced Foods with Few Complaints

  • Diamond Pet Foods with 15 complaints. Diamond produces Chicken Soup for the Soul, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge and 4-Health the Tractor Supply official brand. Diamond cat food starts at $22 for 18 lbs and Diamond dog food starts at $30 for 40 lbs.
  • Whiskas with 33 complaints. $13 for 15 lbs at Petco.com
  • Eukanuba with no complaints so far and 5 star ratings on all pet food sites. Eukanuba cat food starts at $34 for 16 lbs at wag.com, and Eukanuba dog food starts at $53 for 33 lbs at wag.com
  • NutriSource with no complaints so far - $32 for 16 lbs cat food at wag.com, $47 for 33 lbs dog food at wag.com

Reporting Problems with Pet Food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration website offers easy online options for making a report about a problem with pet food. Detailed instructions are included about all of the information required. If you purchased pet food that contained mold or maggots, please make a report to the FDA. If you believe your pet has become seriously ill after consuming a new brand of food, please also make a report so other pets will not have to suffer.