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A blonde woman wearing glasses and a grey sweater sits on outdoor steps, affectionately placing her arm around a large brown dog. The background features colorful, modern house walls and railings.
Pet Blog

Pentobarbital: Dog Food Testing & Clean Dog Food Labels

How did this euthanasia drug end up in pet food?


What is pentobarbital?

The chemical pentobarbital is commonly used in humans and animals for euthanasia procedures. It is a slow-acting barbiturate that causes respiratory arrest resulting in death. Only a small amount of the substance is effective to severely suppress breathing and heart rate. [Source: Open Chemistry Database]


How does pentobarbital end up in pet food?

While pentobarbital is a common way to euthanize animals, the animal's carcass becomes contaminated and should not be used for manufacturing pet food. Unfortunately, some sub-standard pet food rendering plants have been known to use animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter. According to a 2002 report from the FDA, "it is assumed that the pentobarbital residues are entering pet foods from euthanized, rendered cattle or even horses."
At “I and love and you”, we hold ourselves to a standard such that no level of pentobarbital is acceptable in our pet food. We choose not to use animal by-product in our foods, due to varying quality and contamination in these ingredients.

What can happen if my pet eats a product with pentobarbital? What should I do?

Pets that have ingested pentobarbital will almost immediately begin to show signs of neurologic distress. The FDA reports, "Oral exposure to pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner), inability to stand, coma and death. Consumers who notice these symptoms in their pets should consult their veterinarian."

How can I avoid pet food that contains pentobarbital?

The Clean Label Project is an organization that is "advocating for product transparency." Their website makes it easier for consumers to identify products that are healthy for babies and pets. The organization routinely test products and provide Brand Report Cards. Click here to find pet brands, where you will find a Best In Class rating "I and love and you".

The Clean Label Project is launching a new initiative that will make it easier to ensure that your pet food is pentobarbital-free. The organization is providing a badge for brands to display on products indicating they have been tested to be free of pentobarbital. You will find this badge displayed on the "I and love and you" website that have been selected by Clean Label Project for their initial testing.