We’ve had a few emails and social media messages asking for advice or comment on the rumors surrounding Purina dog food.
If you’re not aware of these rumors you can Google away but, in short, there have been anecdotal reports online of people claiming their pet has become sick or died after eating various Purina dog food recipes.
I use the word “claiming” not to imply disbelief but because I’m a journalist by training and I try to be accurate and deal in facts. I know the horrendous pain suffered by anyone losing a pet, but there is currently no concrete evidence of any issue with Purina food.
This is how Dog Food Advisor has always worked and has to work — we only report dog food recalls and warning letters from the FDA. You can see them all here, including those involving Purina.
We don’t act on rumors. That’s a slippery slope.
We know the awful effects of large-scale disinformation and how easily it’s spread online, particularly if it fits with people’s prejudices (we all have them) or fears. That disinformation is often passed on by people with the very best of intentions.
It also hampers the ability of people to expose genuine malpractice and cover-ups by making it harder for the truth to battle through noise and skepticism.
Purina made a statement last week denying any problem. You can read it here. I also approached Purina for comment (again, like a good journalist) but have yet to receive a reply. A spokesperson did, however, speak to the New York Times.
So where does that leave us? This is what we know at the time of writing…
- The rumors began and have spread on social media, notably TikTok and Facebook.
- These rumors began around Pro Plan but now feature multiple Purina ranges and recipes.
- There is no verifiable evidence to support the rumors.
- The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not commented on the matter.
- There are vested interests in all potential outcomes.
- Purina has denied any problems with its food, blaming misinformation and potentially malicious agendas.
- Purina has denied rumors in the past with similar explanations.
- Purina’s pet food has caused sickness in animals in the past and has been recalled.
- Recalls do not necessarily mean a food company is ‘bad’, it can mean it has good testing programs.
- Social media can cause panic and disinformation to spread.
- People spreading stories on social media, without first-hand knowledge of those stories, can make something seem bigger than it is — even if done with good intentions.
Of course, most people assume there are only two possible ‘truths’. Either people are making these stories up and scaring pet parents or someone is covering up a problem. Both of which would be contemptible.
But what if nobody (or almost nobody) is lying and there is no covering up of a problem?
What if dogs are getting sick and those dogs have eaten Purina, but Purina isn’t the cause?
Millions of dogs eat Purina each day. Dogs, sadly, get sick. These two facts will cross over at some point: some dogs that eat Purina (or any dog food brand) will get sick. There doesn’t have to be a causal link — but it only takes a few people, honestly or otherwise, suggesting one to start a snowball.
Someone else has a sick dog who eats Purina. They see these stories online and think, “Maybe that’s what’s happened to my dog.” So they tell their story. Other concerned pet parents, with no first-hand experience of any issues, think they’re doing the right thing by sharing that story.
And thus the snowball grows…
Remember, people aren’t just reporting issues with one recipe or even one type of Purina food now; I’ve seen dozens of recipes mentioned. Are they all toxic or infected?
So we have three potential ‘truths’, none of which is proven.
This is why we at DFA haven’t commented until now and why we won’t make any judgements or changes to the site without more information. Dog Food Advisor isn’t some blog or Facebook page where you can write what you like without consequence.
Millions of people come to our site for advice. What I or anyone else here writes affects dogs, dog parents and dog food companies (which, let us not forget, employ decent people with bills, homes and families). That’s a lot of responsibility. It’s not a game.
The bottom line is: you must decide what to feed your dog using the knowledge you have. I’m sorry if you wanted more guidance but I can’t tell you to feed your dog Purina and I can’t tell you not to — as things stand, that would be wrong.
As always, you can use our Best Dog Food pages for lists of top-rated recipes based on ingredients and guaranteed analysis.
We will, of course, keep a careful eye on the situation and update you with any significant developments.
And please remember, if you have experienced an issue with any product and are in the USA, we recommend contacting the manufacturer first. If the company doesn’t provide a satisfactory answer, you can report the problem to the FDA on their website.
If you’re in Canada, you can report any health or safety incidents by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.