The FDA recalled this dog food for containing a seriously dangerous ingredient – Here’s what to feed your dog instead


Unpacking the FDA Recall

If you’re a dog owner, there’s a good chance that you are one of the many pet parents that feed their furry friends kibble. However, there’s also a good chance that you are one of the many Americans that believe we should know more not just about the food that goes into our own body, but that of our beloved pets. But before diving into whether or not kibble is right for your dog: let’s get straight to the distressing news. Low levels of pentobarbital--a lethal drug commonly used to euthanize dogs, cats, and horses-- were recently detected in products of popular kibble manufacturer, Gravy Train, prompting an FDA recall. Wondering how such a hair-raising chemical could have been found in one of the nation’s most popular brands of dog food?

The Incident

This FDA recall didn’t start with the agency proactively investigating dog food companies. The cause for the investigation is unfortunately a sinister one, involving a FDA recall pet owner having to pay the ultimate price for the kibble industry's negligence.That pet owner found herself racing her five sick dogs to the emergency vet just minutes after sharing a can of pet food among them. The vets weren’t sure what was going on, but delivered devastating news just hours later--one of the dogs wasn’t going to make it. Desperate for answers, the pet owner got tests done on the remainder of the food and her dog’s lifeless body. “Poisoning from the dog food. That’s what killed her,” said the owner. It was pentobarbital. Thanks to this proactive owner, the FDA investigated further and eventually issued the widespread recall.

The Kibble Industry

How pentobarbital found its way into the food remains unclear, but there’s one prominent theory that cuts to the core of the kibble industry as a whole.“It’s the dirty little secret of commercial pet food,” says Christine Filardi, certified applied animal behaviorist, certified canine and feline nutritionist, “Dead animals basically go to rendering plants, and then - allegedly, of course, unless I see it with my own eyes -- the plants sell the ground meat to commercial pet food companies.” While there’s no proof as to where the pentobarbital came from, dog food manufacturers have not provided any other reasonable explanation for the existence of the drug in their food. When the existence of the dog, cat, and horse euthanasia drug brought on the FDA recall, Nicholas Dodman, chief scientic officer for The Center for Canine Behavior Studies and former director of the Animal Behavior Program at Tufts University had this to say about the drug’s origins, “It comes from the euthanasia of animals using that euthanasia drug. [...] So, these animals could be dogs, they could be cats, they could be horses - but how is it getting into the pet food? If they say it doesn’t come from dogs, cats, and horses where does it come from? It doesn’t come from outer space?” Regardless of where the pentobarbital came from, one thing remains clear. Just as we’ve become skeptical of highly processed foods for our own consumption, it is time to start thinking critically about what we feed our furry family members as well.

The full warning list

  • Gravy Train with T-Bone Flavor Chunks
  • Gravy Train with Beef Strips
  • Gravy Train with Lamb & Rice Chunks
  • Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks
  • Gravy Train with Beef Chunks
  • Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits 12-can Variety Pack
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy
  • Ol’ Roy Strips Turkey Bacon
  • Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew
  • Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef
  • Skippy Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef

Healthy Options

If you’re looking for an alternative option, fresh dog food subscription companies are a healthier, convenient option for dog owners who want to feed their dogs fresh, higher quality meals, with a lot more transparency about their human-grade ingredients. Recently, there have been a lot of new companies on the scene, and while the products they’re selling are more expensive than traditional, dried dog food, a lot of people have made the switch. When it comes down to it, if commercial dog food isn’t a trustworthy option, it really shouldn’t be an option at all. Why should your dog eat food you wouldn’t eat? They shouldn’t. However, because there are so many more options now than there used to be, picking the right dog meal subscription isn’t easy. While a lot of the products look the same, there are differences worth noting, so we’ve picked three of the best fresh dog food companies with human-grade ingredients: Ollie, Farmer’s Dog, and NomNomNow.

Best overall: Ollie

Ollie is all about quality. While Ollie’s headquarters are in New York, all of its cooking and packaging takes place in New Jersey, at a USDA certified facility. This means that the meals Ollie makes aren’t only edible for dogs - they’re edible for you too. Ollie’s dog food is custom formulated by veterinary nutritionists to include all of the proteins (all their recipes are 65+% meat), carbohydrates, and healthy fats your dog needs so they don’t end up with any of the nutritional deficiencies that may be produced by lower quality grain free diets. They offer a Turkey recipe which is 100% potato-free and just 5% of the recipe includes legumes. Meals are made fresh, and each batch is tested for quality by third party testers for taste, freshness, and quality. Additionally, Ollie makes portioning your dog’s food easy, including portioning tools and instructions in every package. Currently, Ollie is offering 20% off your first box, but you can get 50% off through this link for a limited time only.

Runner Up: Farmer's Dog

Founded in Brooklyn, the Farmer’s Dog is focused on not only making your dog’s life better, but making the whole world better too. As part of this, Farmer’s Dog only uses recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable materials when packaging its meals. Before packaging, meals are designed by veterinary nutritionists to fit your pet’s profile, and cooked in a USDA certified kitchen using proteins, vegetables, starches, and fruits that are cooked at low heat. Every two weeks, the Farmer’s Dog asks you to choose which two meals you’d like to have featured in your delivery for the next two weeks, then vacuum packs and sends your chosen recipes in fourteen meals delivered to your door.

Runner Up: Nom Nom Now

NomNomNow is dedicated to making sure your dog gets all its necessary vitamins and minerals. To achieve this, each NomNomNow meal includes NomNomNutrient mix and Fish Oil, so you don’t have to worry about buying extra supplements for your pup. All of NomNomNow’s meals are specially made by Dr. Justin Shmalberg, one of the world’s leading veterinary nutritionists. He and his team have created four main meals: Heartland Beef Mash, Tasty Turkey Fare, Chicken Chow-Wow, and Porkalicious Pork, customizing each of these recipes based on your dog’s needs. Meals are made fresh weekly using restaurant-quality ingredients, and then are hand-inspected before being sent to you.


Our team at Insider Envy are not veterinarians but care deeply about dogs. Feeding your dog healthy and balanced meals made out of real, fresh ingredients from places like Ollie may help to lower your dog’s risk of disease, but it doesn’t eliminate it. If you believe your dog is at risk for DCM or any other disease, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.

Update: Ollie is extending a limited time offer to our readers. Buy Ollie now through this article and receive an exclusive 50% off your first box for a limited time only.
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