Euthanasia Drug Found in Smucker’s Gravy Train Dog Food

One consumer launched her own investigation, which eventually led to a larger recall

Smucker’s issued a voluntary withdrawal of the dog foods Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Skippy, and Ol’ Roy lines of canned food.

Readers everywhere were wiping tears from their eyes after reading the story of Talula, a dog who died after eating Evanger’s dog food that had been contaminated with a euthanasia drug called pentobarbital. Talula’s story prompted a voluntary recall of some lots of potentially affected Evanger's dog food in early 2017, and now a lengthy investigation has revealed that some dog food manufactured by Smucker's also contained traces of the poison.

In response, Smucker’s issued a voluntary withdrawal of the Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Skippy, and Ol’ Roy lines of canned food. Walmart and several other large retailers promptly removed all affected products from their shelves this month. 

“Nobody should have to go through what we went through,” Nikki Mael, Talula’s heartbroken owner, told the Washington, D.C., ABC affiliate WJLA. “Nobody. Not fair. I mean, I would give anything to see Talula again.”

The Washington state resident has five dogs, all of whom shared the can of poisoned food.

“They were falling over. They were running into the walls. They were convulsing,” recalled Mael of the December 31, 2016, incident. 

After Talula’s death, Mael took action. She shipped the remainder of the canned food to a special lab and drove Talula’s body to a veterinary pathologist.

Once Talula’s cause of death was reported, WJLA partnered with Ellipse Analytics, a lab that specializes in testing food for contaminants, and tested 62 samples of wet dog food for the euthanasia drug.

Sixty percent of the samples of Smucker’s brand Gravy Train tested positive. When the station shared their results with the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA promised it would “investigate the matter and take appropriate enforcement action.”

A spokesperson for Smucker's told The Daily Meal: “Veterinarians and animal nutrition specialists, as well as the FDA, have confirmed that extremely low levels of pentobarbital, like the levels reported to be in select shipments, do not pose a threat to pet safety. However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards. We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused.”

The company also noted that their “internal investigation into this situation is ongoing” and the potential source of the ingredient has been narrowed down “to a single supplier and a single, minor ingredient, used at one manufacturing facility.”

For now, it is probably wise to throw away any dog food affected by the product withdrawal (here's the complete list, compiled by WJLA)  — and you might want to consider buying one of these healthy brands of dog foods instead.

For the record: In the original version of this story published February 15, the article stated that Talula died after eating Smucker's brand dog food. The article was updated February 16 to clarify that Talula ate Evanger's brand dog food. In addition, the article stated that 31 varieties of dog food produced by Smucker's tested positive for pentobarbitol; in fact, WJLA's tests found the drug only in some cans of Gravy Train brand food.