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Euthanasia Drug Found in Evanger’s Dog Food, Causing Illness and Death of Dogs

UPDATE: Phyllis Entis of eFoodAlert received confirmation from an FDA spokesperson that “FDA testing carried out in the agency’s Forensic Chemistry Center and Vet-LIRN labs detected pentobarbital in Talula’s stomach contents, in an open can of food collected from the dog’s owner, and in closed cans of food collected from the dog’s owner and from the retail location where the food had been purchased. With those results in hand, FDA requested that Evanger’s issue the recall notice that was released late in the afternoon of Friday, February 3rd.”

Toxicology reports confirm that sodium pentobarbital – a drug used to euthanize animals – was found in Evanger’s canned dog food.

This shocking discovery comes following the tragedy involving Nikki Mael’s four pugs, one of whom later died, who became violently ill immediately after being fed from a single 12 oz. can of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef with au jus dog food. Nikki explained:

“Within 15 minutes they were walking around acting drunk and then unable to walk. By the time we got to the vets, they were listless and not moving.”

When veterinarians suspected their illness might have been due to the Evanger’s dog food, samples of the remaining dog food and the stomach contents of one of the dogs were sent to Oregon State University’s Diagnostic Laboratory for analysis. What their diagnostic report revealed was stunning:

“Testing of the feed and stomach contents has found pentobarbital.”

In the toxicology report (attached to the diagnostic report from Oregon State University) from Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Animal and Population Health, they found in the samples submitted to their lab for analysis that both the Evanger’s dog food and the stomach contents of the deceased dog tested positive for pentobarbital. Alarmed, the toxicologist adds in his report:

“If this sample came directly from a can, this is an urgent matter and needs to be reported to the FDA Feed Safety Portal.”

Immediately following the horrifying discovery of a euthanizing drug in Evanger’s dog food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture were notified, prompting an FDA an investigation Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company, its canning facility and further testing to confirm the initial toxicology reports indicating pentobarbital contamination.

During the FDA investigation, the FDA confirmed to Nikki that their independent testing found,

“An abundant amount of pentobarbital in the can.”

Despite this, Evanger’s continues to flatly denies that the accusation by claiming the “FDA has not completed any additional tests.”


In an email from the FDA to Susan Thixton of Truth About Pet Food, following her inquiry into the matter regarding Evanger’s, the FDA confirmed that they had received adverse reports of Evanger’s pet food and was conducting an investigation:

“The FDA has received and is investigating adverse event reports related to this issue,” but as the investigation is ongoing they “cannot share anything further at this time.”

To date, the FDA has not made these test result public nor have published the results of their investigation of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company.


Curiously, the Evanger’s dog food implicated in the poisoning claims to be made of “completely human-grade” 100% beef. Historically, cattle are not euthanized with drugs. Therefore, the finding strongly suggests another – decidedly unsavory – source of the meat in the dog food: Euthanized horses or worse, euthanized dogs and cats. To confirm the hypothesis, species analysis would need to be performed. To date, it is unknown whether the FDA plan to conduct such testing.

For years, there has been speculation that the pet food industry uses euthanized animals in pet food. Unfortunately, FDA testing in 2002 failed to discover the species responsible for widespread contamination of pentobarbital they found in major brands of pet food in 1998, leaving the world wondering if such a horrific practice was in use.


Evanger’s also has the unfortunate reputation of substituting inferior meats in pet food in the past. In fact, Evanger’s has a long and sordid criminal history involving racketeering, money laundering, fraud, and bribery dating back years.

Evanger’s continues to hotly deny any wrongdoing in this most recent scandal, publishing several test results of the dog food in question. The company insists that they haven’t found any connection between their dog food and the “alleged incident,” going on to say “there is no medical evidence that shows [Evanger’s] were responsible.”

In response to recent media reports that Evanger’s pet food contains pentobarbital, Evanger’s continued to deny the allegations by claiming they are simply “unverifiable reports or unsubstantiated rumors that are intended to deceive the public” and that “the “claims” are simply fear tactics and either unrelated or unsubstantiated claims against our company and our foods.”

Adding, “None of our foods have been reported to contain pentobarbital or any other contaminant.”

Instead of testing for toxins or chemicals, Evanger’s tested the dog food in question (lot number is 1816E06HB13) for Commercial Sterility of Pet Food (free of micro-organisms), Botulinum Toxin A/B, Salmonella, Enterobacteriaceae, Clostridium, and Staphylococcus aureus and they came back negative.

However, the absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.


The FDA is anxious to hear from other pet parents who may have had any adverse reactions to feeding Evanger’s pet food. The FDA urges consumers who want to report any problems or adverse reactions relating to animal foods to contact the agency’s district office complaint coordinators.

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To view the toxicology report in its entirety click on the following link: Toxicology Report


Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nikki Mael and her family during this difficult time and I want to personally thank her for her willingness to be interviewed for this story. I also appreciate her giving me a copy of the toxicology report and generously giving me permission to publish it here.

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Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News remains free (and ad-free) and takes me many, many hours of laborious work to research and write, and thousands of dollars a year to sustain. Help keep Poisoned Pets alive by making a donation. Thank you.




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.

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