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Purina Dog Food Reports — Updates

Andrew Dickens


Andrew Dickens
Andrew Dickens

Andrew Dickens


Andrew Dickens is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster with 20 years in journalism. He’s created compelling content on film and television, travel, food and drink, physical and mental health, business, sport, technology and politics. And, of course, dog food.

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Updated: May 17, 2024

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Update May 16 2024 — Purina gives statement to Dog Food Advisor

We contacted Purina for comment on the FOIA data and ongoing situation. I quickly received this response on behalf of the company from Lorie Westhoff, Senior Director, Corporate Communications at Purina. It’s the first public statement by the company since January.

“First and foremost, Purina products continue to be safe to feed, and we have no current or pending recalls.

At Purina, we are in the business of making pet food that is backed by science to help pets live long, healthy lives. The safety and quality of our pet food is our top priority. It is heartbreaking to hear of any pet getting sick for any reason. As a company that feeds more than 100 million dogs and cats in the U.S. every year, we take the responsibility to provide healthy and safe pet food seriously. In fact, it is our absolute top priority. 

It’s important to note that filing an FDA complaint is not evidence or confirmation of an issue, which the FDA outlines clearly when providing reports like the one referenced recently. It makes sense that there was an increase in complaints against our products in January as that was when the orchestrated effort to spread a false rumor about our food began. This false rumor led many pet owners to believe that if their pet was sick for any reason, it was related to our products, and they were told to file complaints regardless of whether they had sought veterinary care or advice about their pet’s health. 

When this false rumor began, we promptly reviewed all quality assurance data dating back a year and found no product issues. Those behind this false rumor have repeatedly tested our pet foods and admittedly found no issues.

We encourage pet parents to consult their pet’s veterinarian, not social media, if their pet is sick for any reason. And if they have any questions or concerns about a Purina product, please reach out to our team directly.

If there is ever an issue with a Purina product, we will be transparent and act quickly to share that information. There is no benefit to us to do anything else. At Purina, our North Star is simple, and it guides every decision we make: Do the right thing for pets, every single time. After all, we are feeding our own pets the same food that millions of other pet parents do every day.”

Update May 14 2024 — data released by the FDA

Another piece has appeared of the very confused and unpleasant jigsaw surrounding the reports of sick and dying pets linked with food — most notably Purina. 

The blog The Truth About Pet Food has published data obtained from the FDA through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.

It contains details all “adverse incidents” involving pet food and sick pets reported to the FDA in January 2024. In total, there were 971 reports, of which 886 featured Purina products. The total number of pets reportedly affected was 1,312. 

886 reports were a Purina product.

85 were other brands.

Some of the reports included more than one pet. The total number of sick pets received by the FDA in (only) January 2024 was 1,312.

Since these reports came to light on a large scale in January, we’ve tried to give you the facts, along with some context and allowed you to come up with your own conclusions. Legally and morally, that’s all we can do, along with contacting the FDA and Purina for information and comment. 

So, what can we say about this information?

First, the obvious take is that it doesn’t look good for Purina. But before I get to that, there are some notes of caution and balance. 

The data is clearly marked with a disclaimer, which reads:

”This record contains information submitted to FDA through FDA’s established reporting systems. The existence of a report does not, itself, mean the product listed was defective or the cause of an adverse event.”

Until findings have been made through lab tests, this is a reasonable thing for the FDA to say. Correlation and causality are not the same thing. 

We also have to be aware that this is a small data set. Hopefully, there’ll be figures from other months available soon, for comparison. 

Also, as I wrote in January, there was a likely snowball effect. So, as an illustration, someone has a sick dog and that dog eats Purina. They see the reports online of dogs, who also eat Purina, getting sick and they connect the two — and so they report their situation to the FDA. 

This will have contributed to the fact that the vast majority (91%) of the reports mention Purina. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — if there is/was an issue with Purina food (and remember, nobody can yet state that there is/was) or any pet food, then the more reports are made the better. But it will almost certainly have skewed things for that reason — and sick dogs fed other brands might not be reported. 

What else can we say? 

Reports to the FDA are, in my opinion, more solid than posts on social media. That’s not to say all social posts are false, but a report to the FDA takes more effort and detail. But again, a report doesn’t mean there was a problem with the food.

The reported symptoms, in many cases, look similar (again, the snowball effect may have a role here). Also, the reports of dogs recovering on a bland diet before relapsing when returning to their usual food suggest a problem with or reaction to food — but without a vet report or other evidence, we can’t say for sure. This is why it’s important that, if your dog is sick, you to take them to a vet. If you think the food might be the cause, you should keep a sample.

The number of different foods and recipes reported clouds the matter somewhat, given the millions of dogs who eat Purina products every day. If it were just one or two products, the picture would be clearer. Multiple products make less sense. 

Like I say, we can only present concrete facts and these, at the moment, are very limited. We can’t state any connection or causality because we have no proof.

What we can do is control the foods we recommend on Dog Food Advisor. To that end, as a cautionary act, we’ve removed all Purina products from our Best Dog Food pages indefinitely. This does not mean that we think there was a problem and we are not telling you to either feed or not feed Purina to your dogs. We just want to let the dust settle and see what the truth is.

Again, I’m sorry this news isn’t conclusive but I hope you feel a little more informed.

Update April 29 2024 — a statement from the FDA

Following the surge in January of reports of sick and dying dogs, believed by some pet parents to be related to Purina dog food, these reports and rumors now seem to cover dozens of dog food recipes from multiple brands.

At Dog Food Advisor, we have a responsibility to stick with our principles of only reporting concrete facts — e.g. pet food recalls. Sadly, these are few and far between in this case. This is not to dispute all of the reports, but with the size of our audience and the impact our words might have, we can’t link them to dog food brands based on social media posts and rumors (remember, a rumor is just an unverified story and can be true or false). If other groups and sites wish to, that’s their prerogative and I won’t criticize them for it — I hope our stance is understood and respected.

However, this doesn’t stop us from wanting to find the truth.

Therefore I contacted the FDA, which had yet to speak on the matter, asking for a statement — and I got one. It doesn’t tell us much, but it shows the agency is aware of the reports and suggests it’s looking at them.

The FDA takes seriously its responsibility to help ensure that pet food ingredients are safe and nutritious. While the agency cannot comment on specifics of these particular illness reports at this time, generally speaking, when the FDA becomes aware of pet illnesses, we will evaluate them and determine what – if any – FDA action may be warranted. The agency encourages pet owners or their veterinarians to submit reports of illness or other adverse events associated with pet food directly to the FDA by following the instructions on this page: How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

Its media office added, “When/if there is actionable information to share, the FDA will notify the public.”

It’s an undeniably reserved approach, which is not what we saw with the rumors of a link between grain-free dog food and heart disease. That link has remained unproven so it could be argued that the FDA statements did unnecessary damage to many dog food manufacturers, large and small. With the controversy that has ensued, including a lawsuit, perhaps the agency is exercising greater caution this time.

As ever, we’re just presenting the facts for you to use as you see fit. We will continue to monitor, investigate and report.

Jan 24 2024

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 FDAYou 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.

Final word

The Dog Food Advisor does not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

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