Diamond Pet Foods Recall FAQ

Did your dog or cat get sick after eating one of the recalled brands? Been getting the run-around by the pet food company, overwhelmed, confused, worried sick, all of the above? Panic sets in and no matter how hard you try to think straight it just ain’t gonna happen.

Sometimes, all we need are answers to our most basic concerns to keep us from going completely off the deep end. In an effort to keep that from happening, I decided to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. So, take a deep breath, sit in a comfy spot with a nice piping hot cup of cocoa and relax. Help is at hand…

Q. Mollie! How do I know if my fur baby has Salmonella infection? Help!!!

A. Dogs and cats that become ill from Salmonella infection generally will have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Affected pets may seem more tired than usual, and may have a fever or vomit. Some cats do not have diarrhea, but will have a decreased appetite, fever, and excess salivation. Some dogs or cats may have Salmonella infection but may not appear to be sick.

In some pets, the diarrhea may be so severe that the pet needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless your pet is treated promptly.

If your dog or cat has these signs of illness or you are concerned that your pet may have Salmonella infection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian. Let your veterinarian know if your pet recently consumed a recalled product.

Q. How do I find out for sure if it is Salmonella and not something else?

A. The only way to know for certain is to have your vet confirm the presence of the Salmonella bacterium. This is typically done using a fecal sample. Yup, that’s right poop, but preferably diarrhea. The preferred method for the purposes of identifying the specific strain of Salmonella, specifically Salmonella Infantis, is to have your vet submit a sample for Salmonella culturing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis testing (PFGE).

It is not recommended, however, to use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing method. The downside is that all you find out with PCR testing is whether Salmonella is present or not. With culture, the bacterium can be tested further to see if it is the outbreak strain, and it can be tested for its susceptibility to antibiotics in the uncommon event that antibiotic treatment is needed.

Q. I’m going to the vet and I’m as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs! What should I expect, as far as labs and stuff?

A. Well, since I am not a vet, I referred to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) page on information for veterinarians regarding the Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Infantis Infections Linked to Dry Dog Food. What they recommend, is that if your pet is ill and has come into contact with the recalled pet food or with clinical signs consistent with salmonellosis, you and your vet need to report the case to FDA.

As far as testing is concerned, it is recommended by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) that your vet will submit a diarrhea (preferred) or vomitus sample to a state or university veterinary diagnostic laboratory for Salmonella culturing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis testing (PFGE).

Additionally, stool samples can also be submitted for pets that appear healthy but were known to eat a recalled product. If the laboratory isolates Salmonella but cannot perform PFGE, the isolate maybe forwarded to a laboratory that can perform the procedure such as one of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) labs in your area or the Diagnostic Bacteriology Laboratory at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

If your vet needs to locate an AAVLD laboratory in your area, they should go to AAVLD Accredited Labs, or go to the AAVLD’s home page and click on the “Accreditation” link on the left side menu bar. To submit isolates to NVSL, complete Form VS 10-3 indicating whether serotyping, PFGE, or both are requested. Form VS 10-3 and additional information on sample submission is located at the NVSL website.

Q. Mollie, I am pretty sure the recalled pet food made my fur baby sick. Now what? Should I ask my vet to have the pet food tested too?

A. According to the CDC, if you take a sample of the suspected pet food into your vet and your pet has the clinical signs of salmonellosis after eating the recalled food, the vet should report the case to the FDA through the FDA’s consumer complaint system. Pet food that has been recalled should be assumed to be contaminated and according to the CDC, “does not need to be tested”. the CDC recommends that if your pet is ill and the product has not been recalled it is very important that vet report the case to FDA.

If you want to have the pet food tested by a private laboratory, please keep in mind that it may be costly to have numerous tests conducted on the sample. Have the vet contact your state/local public health or agriculture laboratory, or state/ university veterinary diagnostic labs for information on how to collect and ship a potentially contaminated pet food or treat sample.

Q.  How do I report a suspected or confirmed Salmonella illness in my pet?

A. Veterinarians and clients alike can and should report cases of animal illness associated with pet food in two ways: (1) call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state, or (2) report electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. Reports should include product details and should also should include medical information, including a veterinarian’s report. At that point, the FDA will review the consumer complaint and determine next steps including whether a sample collection (diagnostic and/or finished product) is necessary.

Q. Mollie! I was told by Diamond that in order to file a claim my pet has to test positive for Salmonella. Is that true?

A. Yes, it is true. For the purposes of filing a claim your vet needs to have a positive test result for Salmonella in your pet. If you experienced a problem with 4Health, Apex, Chicken Soup for Pet Lover’s Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Kirkland, Premium Edge, Professional or Taste of the Wild, these brands are owned by Diamond, therefore any questions or problems should be directed to Diamond Pet Foods.

Brands not owned by Diamond Pet Foods but manufactured by Diamond involved in the recall are Canidae, Natural Balance, Solid Gold and Wellness; those companies need to be contacted individually. Criteria for submitting claims to those companies may be different than Diamond’s. For example, WellPet (Wellness) has indicated that a positive result for Salmonella is not necessary.

Q.  I was told that there are only two confirmed cases of Salmonella Infantis in dogs. How can that be?

A. There’s no reason to think that the strain of Salmonella involved here would infect people but not dogs. The reason that there are reports of human but not canine cases could simply be because there is a formal surveillance and reporting system for humans but not dogs. Also, testing is not commonly performed on dogs with diarrhea, so large numbers of cases could go unidentified.

The CDC is aware that animal illnesses associated with recalled products have been reported to FDA’s consumer complaint system. The FDA is aware of the number of confirmed case of salmonellosis, however they are not required to share that information with the public, particularly when an investigation is ongoing (which is the case with regards to Diamond Pet Foods).

(Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/dog-food-05-12/pet-owners-info.html, http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/dog-food-05-12/vet-info.html)

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (20) Write a comment

  1. Pingback: Diamond Pet Foods Hit with Class Action Suit over Salmonella Outbreak « Poisoned Pets

  2. I need help.
    My friend raises English Bulldogs – and he lost 3 dogs and I cannot tell you how many litters because of aflatoxin poisoning (pretty sure) by River Run (Cargill ) dog food. He had two litters which aborted late in the pregnancy, and none of the others got pregnant while on the food.
    One of the males – who by the way died a long and horrible death- was a 6500.00 dog.He was sweet, and beautiful – and rare colored stud.
    Now when they autopsied – they said he had irritable bowel syndrome… what?? They say his liver was OK but his bowels were bad. Oddly he was a fat – muscle bound gorgeous dog till he ate that food.
    what does one do? what tests should they do on the autopsied animal
    I am soooo Upset. they said he may not even have a case. I am dumbfounded

    Reply

    • Read my latest article: http://www.poisonedpets.com/2012/06/04/how-not-to-get-shafted-by-a-pet-food-manufacturer/ and http://www.poisonedpets.com/2012/02/13/the-complete-guide-to-making-a-pet-food-complaint/ for starters.

      I am not a vet, just a consumer advocate. Your best bet is to have the “breeder’s” vet consult with Cornell if his vet is at all unsure about the cause of death (which it doesn’t sound like he is), have the vet have the food tested by MSU and/or by the FDA or your state’s CCC. A test for Aflatoxin is simple and inexpensive. His vet should take care of that.

      If you want or the “breeder” wants, you can contact Cornell, Davis or MSU toxicology dept. directly and ask them for advice based on the dogs diagnosis and cause of death.

      All the basic information you need is on Poisoned Pets or on the internet. But be sure and read the first article.

      BTW, if I was breeder (which I never would be because of the millions of dogs already waiting for homes in shelters right now), and those dogs were precious to me, and I noticed them losing weight, aborting litters, etc., I would stop feeding them whatever it was I was feeding them and switch to the best brand of food I could afford or make my own food and take them to the vet ASAP.

      I would never have been feeding any animal, much less a “stud” or a bitch, a food of such poor quality. River Run and brands like it are only one step away from the lowest quality pet foods on the market, if that.

      Cargill and all the other big pet food brands (Nestle, Mars, Del Monte, etc.) divert the waste material from their human-food production divisions to make pet foods: it’s called adding value.

      It’s like feeding your kids junk food (worse, rotten junk food) 365 days of the year. When animals lost weight, are unable to carry litters to term and one dies of “irritable bowel syndrome”, I would suspect that their diet played a role in the poor health. I would never say for certain their diet was the sole reason for their ill-health, but it certainly would have been a contribution to the state of their general health.

      I am dumbfounded that a “breeder” didn’t notice these adverse events and stop feeding them whatever it was he was feeding them and take them to the vet as soon as one of them started losing weight, aborting litters or before one of the males died. Also, why would anyone let an animal suffer a “long and horrible death”, the kindest thing to do is to euthanize, if there is no hope of recovery?

      I’m sorry if I sound harsh – but I see and hear so much horrible stuff – it just amazes me when someone seems to do all the wrong things when it is his responsibility as a guardian of dogs to care for them in a better, more responsible manner by feeding them a nutritious food, for example. And no, it has nothing to do with poverty or elitism.

      Reply

      • Aflatoxin poisoning is always a risk when feeding kibble…any kind of kibble with grains in it, because as bags of kibble sit in distributor warehouses that are not climate controlled, the grains develop aflatoxin as the heat begins to chemically break down the grains as the food ages. Always check the expiration dates on the food bags to help avoid the problem. A better choice than any kibble or canned food is a properly constructed raw frozen diet. As the Diamond recall illustrates, it is kibble that poses the greatest health risk and thousands of dogs and cats have been sickened or died from eating kibble, not raw diets.
        Ironically, raw diets were suspect in past years, but more and more it is being proven that they are, in fact, the safest and most nutritious foods on the market.

        Chuck Harris
        RawHealth Natural Diet for Pets

        Reply

        • Great point Chuck!

          Personally, I think kibble is risky and certainly not a good choice for cats.

          The reason why I started my pet food research years ago was after my dear furbaby Blackie jr. nearly died from uremic poisoning. I learned that cats cannot thrive on a dry diet, for the most part, because chronic dehydration creates many serious health complications.

          I really feel sorry for the good guys in the industry whose jobs are made that much more difficult because of the negative impression that manufacturers like Diamond leave on the industry as a whole.

          You’ve got your work cut out for you Chuck, you really do.

          Reply

          • Mollie, you are spot on about cats vs kibble. Since cats do not seek out water sources the way dogs do, and should be getting it from their food, kibble does dehydrate them, leading to bladder crystals and stones, not to mention renal problems. Another point about kibble is that feeding it does NOT help clean their teeth. It actually works the other way and this includes dogs also. Kibble gathers at the gum line and creates tartar!
            One positive thing about the current Diamond recall is that it calls pet owners attention to the nutritional inadequacies of canned/kibble foods and points out the very real need to feed naturally and safely with raw diets.

            Chuck

          • True, true and true.

            Silly me, I thought that fountains would make a difference (not); further the fountains I purchased were made of plastic!

            Those were the old days when I didn’t have enough knowledge to make better choices. Needless to say, those fountains went bye-bye.

            But I still believe that a fountain is great fun for cats and they are attracted to running water, primarily, I believe, because it has a better taste.

            The fountain, if I could afford it, would be the Glacier Point fountain.

            Meanwhile, it’s filtered water (from a fancy ceramic filter) everywhere in the house (not near their food) in glass dishes changed daily.

            As you so correctly point out, cats are descendents of desert living animals and their primary source of fluids was from their prey.

            Yes, tragically, it takes something like an adverse event to get people’s attention. And if there is good to come from recalls like this, is that it creates consumer awareness that all is not rosy in pet food land. In fact, it’s quite rotten.

  3. Pingback: Your complete guide to the Diamond pet food recalls (UPDATED) « Poisoned Pets

  4. Pingback: Diamond Pet Foods to grieving pet parent with dead dog: show us proof or get lost « Poisoned Pets

  5. I just heard about this recall today when I went to buy more food. I stood around the store reading labels , asking questions for over an hour . after getting several positive reports on a food named” evangers” I purchased a bag came home and looked it up only to find bad reports about the awful way they process the food. Does anyone have any info on this? I am begining to think human table scraps would be the way to go…at least if it has crap in it we will both go down. Thats what my dog ate when I had him as a kid and he lived to be 20 years old…he also ate poop and alley garbage!!

    Reply

    • Hi Mary, if you really want to try a safe and nutritious food take a look at http://www.rawhealthpetfood.com. In the face of continuing recalls, a raw diet is something you might consider. You will find a lot of good info online about raw feeding and a lot of revealing info about what is in canned and kibble pet food. You can also call me about feeding raw and why it is THE way to feed your pet. My number: 407-619-2473.

      Chuck Harris, Founding Partner
      RawHealth Natural Diet for Pets

      Reply

    • Table scraps are fine, but that depends on the scraps. Like Chuck recommends, a good raw food is the best you can do for your dog. There are other raw brands, but just don’t get the ones that have been pasteurized (Nature’s Variety, Stella & Chewy’s, for example). Look it up — it’s called HPP. It messes with the proteins in addition to the pathogens. Just follow the advice given about all raw meat (for humans or pets) and you’ll be OK.

      Reply

  6. Pingback: Sengunda planta de Diamond con Salmonella 19/05/2012 | Sitio Web de Información de Alimentación Canina | Alimentación natural canina | Alimentación natural para perros

  7. My dog got very sick from the recall. I have not reported it yet. I Have the recalled bag in my trunk, I have about $400 worth of vet bills from this incident. I am pretty sure I ended up feeding my dog two big contaminated bags. She got very sick back in December and then again last month. Just finished the antibiotics yesterday. I am hoping she will finally begin to get well. I will not be feeding any foods produced by diamond!

    Reply

  8. Good information. I find it horribly ironic that salmonella is turning up in kibble when raw diets have frequently been the targets of pet owners’ and vets’ fears about salmonella. My company’s (RawHealth) foods have never tested positive for salmonella nor listeria. Raw diets, when done correctly and proper sanitation protocols are followed, may be the safest food on the market. Like I said-ironic.
    Chuck Harris, CEO and Founding Partner
    RawHealth Natural Diet for Pets

    Reply

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