PetCo Sells Dog Food That Expired 3 Years Ago

Marc’s puppy is ill and he suspects the culprit is some expired dog food he bought at PetCo.

This past Tuesday my Yorkie Mason began throwing up, and not having the best appetite in the world. After throwing up 6 times in one day, we figured something was wrong with him, so of course we took him to the Doggie ER. They evaluated him, and said he may be dehydrated, and did some type of procedure on him. The next day, he was somewhat ok, but still not his normal playful self. He has now been under the vets care, and has spent two nights there under the vet’s watch. I called the vet last night and told him what I discovered: Expiration dates from 2004 on the Eukanuba canned dog food I purchased. Now, I purchased 5 cans of this dog food, and 2 of them have the 2004 expiration date. I don’t know if the other cans he has finished may have had this expiration date on it since I have thrown those away already.

Now, I really want to go to PETCO and punch someones face for this, but I’m really not the violent type, so I would love for you to give me some heads up on what to do!

Yikes. We’re obviously not experts on the health effects of expired pet food, but let’s assume that the food went bad and made your puppy ill. You’ll probably want to document everything and then contact PetCo to see what compensation they’ll offer you. It’s likely that they’ll just offer to replace the food, but you may be able to get a gift card or other compensation from them if you make a good case that the food injured your pet.

This story reminds us that people should still keep an eye out for both expired pet food and recalled pet food. Stores are much less vigilant about pet products than they are about food meant for people. Give a hug to the puppy for us, he’s adorable.

Has this happened to you or your pet? What did you do?


Edit Your Comment

  1. spevman says:

    I do sympathize, but you really should always pay attention to the expiration date on the can. Just as you would for human food you buy for your family at the supermarket.

    “Hey, what’s this 4 week expired milk still doing on the shelf? Okay, I’ll buy it!”

  2. target_veteran says:

    Odds are, there are several levels of failure here. The somewhat standard retail supply chain is manufacturer -> distributor -> retailer’s warehouse -> retailer. Anyone from the distributor on down could be responsible. All those levels are supposed to practice First in, First out (FIFO) practices, but all it takes is one lost case in a warehouse to throw that out of whack. Employees at the retail level should check dates. However, they generally trust that stuff coming off the truck is fresh and that undergoes less scrutiny.

    I’d get in touch with both corporate customer service and your local media bout this and push for reimbursement for your vet bills. This is a major screw up on someone’s end. This is a perfect “man’s best friend” story for some editor to run.

    Hope the little guy gets better. Anyone who owns a dog knows that when the vet bill comes, you just pay it like for any other family member.

  3. Lynn12 says:

    Just something any pet owner may want to think about doing…

    Ask your vet about a home dog food reciept with a nutrient suppliment designed for your dogs age group. We started doing this after loosing our collie during the tainted food recall and our other dogs are doing great on it.

  4. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Poor Mason! I hope he feels better!

  5. demonradio says:

    @lynn12: I think that’s a great idea. :) And I’m sorry for the loss of your doggy.

  6. SabrinaFaire says:

    I’ve seen expired pet food on store shelves more than once. And most recently at PetCo. I once bought a bag that was expired and returned it unopened. I figured if I had to pay full price then I should get a good product, right? Since then I always check the expiration date on pet food bags and it’s not uncommon for me to see expired food. (Though not so common as it happens every time)

    I hope the doggie gets better soon!

  7. ry81984 says:

    This guy is a loser and almost killed his own dog. I hope someone from Petco punches him in the face for feeding exipred food to a dog.

    If you want the store to check the expiration date on every product for you, then expect to pay much more for your food. Stores do not have the resources to check everything. Its the consumers job to notify the retailer of problems so they can fix it. The store is only at fault if they fail to act on the customer complaints.

    You get what you pay for and if you want service you will have to pay more for it.
    If you want the store to check everything for you then go to an expensive pet store not to a low price pet store where all the workers get under $10 an hour.

  8. Darren666 says:

    @ry81984: Selling expired food will get you closed down by the health inspectors and criminal charges possibly filed in most jurisdictions.

    While the consumer bears some responsibility for not purchasing out-of-date food, the store also bears responsibility for selling it.

  9. BStu says:

    @ry81984: I worked at Target a few years back and we checked expiration dates at least once a week. Expired product on shelf is a failure on the store’s part. Yeah, the customer probably should have checked but even the best of us forget to check some of the time. Given how expired the product was, this was an extreme failure on the part of PetCo.

  10. Lynn12 says:

    Thanks for the comment. She was a great dog who we miss a lot (more like a furry kid).

    As for the home made dog food, it is pretty easy to make. We do a two week supply and then freeze it in daily portion sizes. This method takes only about 2 hours a month. Also, there are tons of recipes for dog treats on the internet.

    just check with your vet before using any recipe, do a slow transition to avoid problems & make sure to use the suppliment)@demonradio:

  11. babaki says:

    i agree that the store or warehouse is largely at fault for this. but the customer sure has some responsibility here. you need to check the dates on the product. thats what they are for. ignorance is not a defense on either part.

  12. Just as you would for human food you buy for your family at the supermarket.

    @spevman: I bought and ate a little oatmeal recently before realizing it was expired. Normally I check expiration dates but this time I forgot. Sometimes people forget. If he had a “oh well, it’s just a dog” attitude, would he have taken the dog to the vet at all?

    Maybe Marc forgot too. Or maybe Marc never checks for expiration dates, even on human food. Who knows? (I mean, Marc knows but he didn’t say.)

  13. ShadowFalls says:

    This issue is that the dog was probably earing this expired food for some time, some of it was really bad while some was still acceptable. More than likely, the dog got food poisoning. Though a customer should be checking expiration dates because of store negligences, the expired items should never have been an option to buy.

  14. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:


    Notice how BABAKI made the same point you did, but managed not to be so harsh/hateful.

  15. Youthier says:

    Marc, don’t punch Petco in the face. I hear a hammer has been proven to work though.

  16. MarcAnthony says:

    Okay, so yeah maybe I did forget to check the expiration date this one time, but let it be known that I have recently become infatuated with checking the dates and product orgin on everything! It’s hard to remember to look at the product to see if its still good, I figure, hey I know I just purchased the food, so it has to be good! I expect retailers to look out for these things too!

    Called Vet, and Mason is okay. He may be able to come home today. Keep your fingers crossed!

    Emailed Petco, they want me to come in and fill out a incident report, and bring copies of medical bills from Vet, ER, etc.

    Called the store where I purchased the food, and store manager told me that they pulled the food of the shelf back in March 2006, and just recently started selling the can food again on their shelves.

    Well, I just want my pup to get better! He is whats most important right now! Thank you all for the well wishes!

  17. surgesilk says:

    That’s not a dog. It’s a rat. Real men don’t have lap dogs.

  18. goller321 says:

    Eukanuba is overrated crap food in the first place. It is a brand of IAMS, which are responsible for inhumane treatment of animals. Just google them to see their record. And I’m not talking crazy PETA type stuff, I’m talking about truly unnecessary testing on dogs and cats that people raise as pets. Add to that the food is of the wheat-based crap variety and you see why I call them garbage food. The only reason your vet recommends them is because of the cash that they see as a result.

  19. MarcAnthony says:

    Mason has a mean bite!

  20. MarcAnthony says:

    did not know that…thanks for that info…
    I am really considering the home made dog food…it sounds easy, and possibly cheaper to make!

  21. MarcAnthony says:

    do you have The grannys number, maybe she can cause more of an uproar for me!

  22. davere says:

    My friend’s pet also started throwing up too and he shops for food at PETCO. I’m going to ask him to check the food’s expiration date. Thanks for this posting.

  23. bambino says:

    @surgesilk: And you, sir, are an asshole.

  24. saltmine says:

    @ry81984: What an asshole. If you knew anything, you’d know that Petco IS an expensive pet store, with prices typically higher than even the grocery store. The only reason people go there is because they have a much wider selection, and they can bring their pets there, but in no way is it “low priced.”

  25. cryrevolution says:

    @bambino: Uh I think he was quoting a recent commercial for Taco Hell. In the commercial its one of the “rules for being a man”, that real men don’t have lap dogs. Yeah.

  26. bohemian says:

    Marc should ask for reimbursement for the food and all of the vet bills at a minimum. I would think that Petco would do this since they were negligent for having three year expired dog food on the shelf.

    I really can’t blame Marc for this. I try to check expiration dates on all the perishables I buy I don’t always check the non perishables I buy, there just isn’t that much time in the day.

    If Petco gives you the run around I am sure a local news story might help. One warning people to check their cans of dog food bought at Petco for expired cans and telling your story as an example.

  27. Okay, so yeah maybe I did forget to check the expiration date this one time

    AH HA!!! *does the ‘I was right’ dance*

    @MarcAnthony: Hope this means your dog is fine now.

  28. MercuryPDX says:

    @MarcAnthony: A BARF (Bones And Raw Food) Diet takes quite a bit of time and commitment. I decided that it wasn’t for me and just feed kibble, but here’s some links if you’re interested:

    BARF Diet FAQ for beginners

    This site will even sell you the food already prepared in patties.

  29. vanilla-fro says:

    @spevman: with you on the checking the exp date. first thing I do on all foods, even for my pets. well not the ones that eat still living food items, those expire in the tummy.

  30. Tigerman_McCool says:

    I’m not gonna lie, if I’m not buying milk, meat, or some other type of short shelf life food, I’m not gonna check an expiration date. Especially on canned stuff. I didn’t think that stuff ever went bad.

    Live and learn, I’ll check it from now on…

    Petco better do more than replace the food.

  31. timmus says:

    Whatever happened to small claims court? Haul them in and get your vet bill paid for!

  32. balthisar says:

    Real Question Here: canned food is virtually shelf stable forever, right? Yeah, there may be some quality degradation, but it’s cooked sterile. Perhaps the food was tainted causing the illness, but that would have happened if the expiration were past or not.

    Due to buying in bulk, we consume lots of “expired” goods at my house. Obviously things like perishables aren’t consumed, but if a can is a year old, or oatmeal is a year old, then what’s the big deal?

  33. RandomHookup says:

    Knowing what dogs can eat and where they are willing to stick their tongues, how bad does food have to be to give a dog food poisoning?

  34. cryrevolution says:

    I have to admit as well, I hardly ever check expiration dates. But three years expired!!?? I can see maybe a couple months to a year but three…thats insane. That is some serious negligence on the store’s part for either keeping 3 year expired food in stock or for buying expired food from the manufacturer. Either way, I know I’ve learned from this, especially since I buy dog food from this establishment occasionally. Or any food for that matter. Sheesh.

  35. Darren666 says:

    @timmus: Maybe Marc doesn’t want to be a jerk and try to resolve this reasonably as gentlemen first?

  36. Bix says:

    This reminds me of a “circus of values” type store that I used to shop at. Once, they sold lots of “unlabeled dog food” (that’s what the sign actually said) in plain metal cans. They also had dry human food products in blatantly old and/or foreign packaging. I specifically remember them carrying Noodle Roni long after it became Pasta Roni.

    Needless to say, I never purchased any consumable items there.

  37. MeOhMy says:

    @MercuryPDX: You can also make home-made dry/wet cooked food. I’ve done it a little bit, but (call me stupid) it seemed like a pain…it never occurred to me to make larger batches and freeze them.

  38. amoeba says:

    I guess is not only PetCo are the ones with expired food. I shop at my local Petsmart and they also have some expired dog’s dry food. I only shop organic food for my shih tzu, and some of their food supposed to exp on 2007 or Jan 2007. I think everybody should be careful. And I agree with many of you, “We need to check EXP. DATES”.

  39. amoeba says:

    oops…I meant 2006 not 2007 SORRY!

  40. HungryGrrl says:

    @Bix: There’s a good sized food section at my local Big Lots and sometimes I will buy things, but I always inspect the expiration date, even though they have a store policy not to have expired items on the shelf. Usually it’s stuff that’s been test marketed and discontinued, discontinued flavors, or bi-lingual packaging. It’s good to pay especially close attention to what you are buying at the discount stores… 25 cents for a can of pineapple might seem great until you realize it’s “Grade C” and not actually comparable to the $2 Dole you usually buy.

    I refused to buy a six pack of beer once when I saw it was a few months past it’s expiration date. The clerk tried to talk me into it, saying “it’s refrigerated, it lasts forever”… but I swapped it out for another kind with a good date instead.

  41. girly says:

    Why can’t the upc for foods or other expire-able products be extended to include an expiration date?

    That way when they scan your price they can also have a warning ‘beep’ and notification for expired products.

  42. ColoradoShark says:

    @girly: Excellent idea! Of course it would help if they printed the expiration date nice and big and easy to see.

  43. MarcAnthony says:


    GOOD NEWS: Mason is home! He isn’t as playful as he always has been, but I figure he may need some time to get back to his normal self! He did throw up again last nite, so im waiting on vet to return call! On my way to PETCO to fill out the incident report, and they asked me to bring copies of the vet bills. I hope that means they plan on picking up the vet and er tab…

  44. RvLeshrac says:


    Or *at all*, since many products merely have a “date code,” and not an expiration date.

    “071007” is OK, but “E1327AQL” is not. :/

  45. RvLeshrac says:


    Oh, for the record, Julian Dating isn’t OK, either. If I see Julian dates, I just estimate. If it even comes remotely close, not buying it.

  46. Manok says:

    my wife has a yorkie and I’d love to buy some expired dog food for it so I can get a real dog.

  47. Ratty says:

    If you want some REAL, healthy pet food to switch to there are plenty of great brands out there. Blue Buffalo is one i have seen at PetSmart. it cost me $13 for a 5 pound bag of kibble, but look at the ingredients–whole meat, no “meal,” no byproducts, no dyes. It’s so filling that while the bag size may seem small and it may be expensive by weight, a dog will eat less. Also consider Wellness and Innova for some really premium dog food. Avoid things with meat or bone meals and anything with corn or wheat–just filler.

    I am glad your dog is OK. Perhaps a switch to some better food can help avoid something like this in the future–IF PetCo gets their act together!

  48. bailey111 says:

    R81984 I suppose it is always the consumer’s fault according to you?

    Perhaps if retailers were more responsible in the first place, this type of thing would not happen. All of these stores are supposed to “care” so much abut pets, they should happile refund your money and your vet bills (sure)

    The food that is manufactured is not good for them anyway.

  49. @MarcAnthony: That’s great!

    I also agree that including the expiration date in the bar code is an awesome idea.

  50. Caroofikus says:

    @girly: EXCELLENT idea…coupon UPCs have the expiration date, so why not other items?

  51. yorkierescuemama says:

    I’m really glad Mason is home.

    I just had an experience at Petco a few days ago. I bought 2 cans of Propan can food, both had expiration dates of 9/2009, so, I figured it was good. I usually don’t use canned food, but, one of my dogs needed wet food for her proplan dry for a few days after her dental. I opened the first can, and it was MOLD! It was the most disgusting thing you could see. I threw it away; no way would I keep it in my house. Next one I opened; same thing, same expiration date. I had also purchased a bag of Proplan small breed dry food, expiration date 2/2009. I opened it, and it seems fine; yet, I am hesitant to use it after seeing the moldy food.

    I contacted proplan directly, and sent them my receipt. They said they would reimburse me for the canned food, but, since nothing looks “bad” in the dry food, they will give me another bag, but not my money.

    So, I’m not sure this was Petco. I think this was Proplan not being responsible with their canned food.

  52. skeleem_skalarm says:

    My pets’ vet told me years ago not to buy anything from PetCo that could expire, because if it wasn’t already expired, it soon would be. He’d had plenty of people come in to buy products from his office because what they’d bought at PetCo was expired when they got it.

  53. insider07 says:

    I spend time in Petco and other retailers and I do find expired or soon to expire food products.

    Keep this in mind. When the shelves are stocked they often put the new product in front. The older product stays in the back. Then when the product gets low what’s left is the older product. Or someone finally ‘rotates’ the product while facing the shelves, pulling the products from the back to the front, but fails to check the dates.

    I myself just pulled a bunch of expired dry product from a retailers shelves this past week. It was only a few months past the expiration date, not years, but still should not have been available for purchase.

    Most of the food products have a shelf life of at least 1 year.

    Check the dates. Dry food products are easy, some of the wet products use a code. Visit the manufactures website to learn how to read it.