Pet Edibles Could Bring Unwelcome Squirmy ‘Surprise’


Ordering food (and treats) for animals over the web, and depending on the seller to pack them properly–and the shipper to not be careless–can leave you with handfuls of living creepy-crawlies that could gross you out forever! Even those bought on the shelves can bring their own set of issues home with them.

I’m writing today with my arm in a cast because this is so important for me to share with you–and try to spare you from what I’ve gone through in the past few weeks.  I promised the companies, who were very honorable and replaced everything (plus some) that arrived “damaged,” that they would remain nameless, but I was determined to share the experience I never ever thought I’d have–and after reading this, you can avoid.

Shopping Online for Pet Food is a BIG blessing in many ways. 

I was one of the small team honored to work with Dr. Alson Sears in 2010 on Project Hope, to prove that his Canine Distemper Virus protocol worked and to put together a whole regiment that now saves thousands of lives all over the world.  (We also developed the Parvo protocol as well.)

After learning how very easy it was to spread these previously only-deadly viruses, I began buying almost everything “dog” online. Just a sick-dog sneeze could spread Distemper fomites (tiny particles) all over the bags of pet food at the pet store.  They stay viable for 24 hours give or take, plenty of time to infect my car and my animals!  Just a sick-dog loose stool, not disinfected properly (which is tough to do in a store environment), could bring home the deadly Parvo virus via a dog’s paws—if they walked on the isle that was previously cleaned but really still infected–which can linger on for months, entering the dog’s body through its pads or by its licking and grooming once home in its now-infected bed.

Living on a special needs dog sanctuary, the Rescue Ranch near Houston, we can’t afford to bring home an infected bag or can of anything.  We even changed our policy for receiving gifts—they all must be factory-sealed, no longer accepting stuff that other dogs didn’t like or from owners who wanted to share a part of their personal bounty.  Even blankets and beds are isolated for thirty days before they are washed (again), to make sure that there are no hidden viruses or diseases that could wipe out our entire “herd” of special needs dogs, who already have suffered unspeakable abuse and accidents before arriving at the Rescue Ranch (or the RR).

When we have the funds available to order food (our prime benefactor was hit by a crisis-causing lay-off in April—eek!), I search for the best sales on our chosen food list, both canned and kibble–with free shipping–and look forward to seeing those beautiful, pristine boxes the following week.  Until now, I have only had a few issues which have been easily remedied.  (Note: Changing foods without doing it gradually causes digestion distress—and big messes—so it is best to stick to a brand/type or two and rotate them–and only change over to something new–gradually–if you must.)


Last week, we received about nine cases of various dog bones, treats and food as well as a few books and people-products.  Tired, the boxes were brought into the main part of the RR, and after doing nighty meds for all the dogs, we all collapsed around 4 AM.  Since breakfast starts at dawn and so does the dogs’ desire to go out again—in wheelchairs, some carried out, some taken out using a walking aid called a Gingerlead walking aid for animals (what a help saving your back and still retaining some independence for senior and disabled animals—and a story for another day). Needless to say, getting the crew or “herd” at the RR out is not as easy as just opening the door and saying, “Have fun!!” so the boxes sat for the major part of the day.

We didn’t give ‘not’ unpacking the boxes a second thought. After all, we knew that nothing was perishable. It was all just canned food and pre-made commercial treats, so there was no worry—or so we thought. (For the dogs who need home-made food, we get the ingredients at the grocery store and immediately freeze or refrigerate just about everything if we may not cook things right away.)

So, about 24 hours after delivery, one of the volunteers slit the packing tape on all of the boxes for me because I am like a duck out of water with one hand in a cast.  I needed to feed some of the dogs with the canned food that I could tell just arrived by the label on the box. Expecting a dry, plastic wrap around each case inside, I made the mistake of reaching in without looking first.  I can tell you that I will NEVER do that again!!


As I reached into the box with my good hand, expecting to split the shrink wrap and take out a pile of cans, I noticed that the shrink wrap was not taught.  It had been torn in shipping.  No biggie, I thought.  The outside corner of the box was compressed like it had been dropped.

I reached under the split plastic wrap and opened my hand to grab a few full size cans. As I closed my hand, I got a handful of soft, squishy, wriggling LIVE things and I jumped back and shrieked.  Someone else came to see what happened and open the box as I was shaking the mass out off of my hand.  The dog food case inside the box was covered in live, fat, healthy white maggots—with a few flies that escaped and had to be tracked down.  My not-easy-to-trigger gag reflex went into action big time and as I tried hard not to lose my breakfast, lunch and dinner from the day before, I called the company.

Apparently, the can that was in the compressed box corner had opened and however it happened, nature took over and breeding began all over where the juice of the squished can had landed.  The company was gracious and ordered a double replacement of my order at no charge and with overnight delivery.  After all, I was counting on that food to feed the dogs!

Oh, not so fast…

My heart calmed down and my gag reflex stopped after an hour or so of moaning and groaning.  I couldn’t take a photo—unless the company needed me to—because I didn’t want to have to relive the experience ever again.  Once was enough for a lifetime.

The box underneath was not crushed.  It had been slit open and I knew that it had a single case of grain-free dog food in it just by the dimensions and the sender.  This time, just to be sure, I opened the box and looked in FIRST—and it was a good thing that I did!  Apparently, the shipping company had dropped the box and split four cans open.  Needless to say, the creepy crawlies were all over the inside of a completely sealed (so it seemed) plastic covering.  Had I reached in again and gotten a handful of maggots again, I think I would have fainted!

I called the company back.  They told me that I had just called and that everything was all set.  Nope, hang on. I told them that there is a second maggot-filled box that I just opened that needed to be replaced.  They were just as gracious, even though my gagging noises.

Lesson Should Have Been Learned

A few years ago, I had a treat box set up for the dogs and even though we go through food and treats like there is no tomorrow, I hadn’t yet learned to put treats in the freezer first (even dry cookies) for three solid days to kill any eggs or undesirables that may be in or on the package.

About to give the dogs a fairly popular, moist treat—in a sealed package not even from a box—I opened the bag and a maggot fell out.  I looked in and there was a nest and an entire “city” of various creepy-crawlies growing in the bag.  Had the maggot not crawled out, alerting me to a problem, I would have reached right in to get a handful of treats and instead would have gotten a whole bunch of, well, living creatures that looked like they may even be biters!

Now, in addition to using refrigeration, I pour all treats into zip-lock bags and then put them back in the ‘frig or freezer.  I can’t help but wonder what is going on in the factories and the thought won’t leave my brain now. Could our animals be eating pre-made foods that may already be contaminated.  Although I do not vaccinate them every year (the brilliant vet, Dr. Sears-now retired–said vets are over-vaccinating our pets just to keep their income steady), I do coat all kibble in a sealed container (0ut of the bags) with food-grade–not the type for swimming pools–DE (diatomaceous earth) which is a natural, edible, creepy-crawly preventive plus I try to worm the dogs at least twice a year (a story for another time).

The Take-away

I am a very long-time near vegan and have toyed with the idea of creating a vegan dog food so we can avoid some of these issues plus my heart-felt guilt of feeding meat to the animals hurts when I think about all of the beautiful animals being eaten.  The thought of what goes on at slaughterhouses keep me up at night (really) and now I am questioning even the cleanliness of the production facilities.  Each time, the maggots and fly species were the same type so there must be a connection.

This story was hard for me to write–both with a cast on my primary hand but also because it brought up some mental pics that I’d rather forget–but you need to know both to save yourself the same nightmares but also to be aware of the foods you are feeding your animals and what they are being exposed to in the pet-friendly pet stores.

Just thinking about it now, maybe even canned foods need to be refrigerated, too?

Rescue Ranch Help Needed

The Rescue Ranch lost our primary benefactor in April due to a lay-off.  We are running on near-empty and could really use some help until he gets on his feet or someone else/s comes forward to help.  There is an entire farm full of animals, with various body parts missing, four in wheelchairs, some with cancer or heart conditions, broken this or that that was fixed or needs to be fixed and it is impossible to take care of them and go back to work to make the money to help them.  Any help/sharing/reposting/tweeting is also greatly appreciated. The more people we can reach, the more animals–theirs and ours–we can help.  Just click on the link below to learn more and to see photos of some of the amazing animals at the RR.  Thank you so gratefully ahead of time. Truly.

About the Author

J.D.Ward, or Jane as the dogs all like to call her, has been a life-long animal advocate and rescuer.  Even as far back as her childhood days, she shared her childhood bedroom with injured animals of all shapes and sizes, getting them adopted once they had healed.  Working hard babysitting to pay their expenses since the age of about ten, she gives thanks to her parents and friends who really did more to help than they got credit for.

After seeing the need for both care for animals who were amazing, but their care was too much for their families (and so they would have been euthanized), and the need for the development and distribution of the Canine Distemper treatment, she quit her job as a software exec and began working on these projects and writing about her experiences, hoping that what she learns can help other “Pets and Their People.” For more about this author, go to:


Learning Links

HELP the Rescue Ranch Dogs Please

Rescue Ranch Blog

Project Hope, Canine Distemper Project

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Options to Worm Dogs Naturally

Options to Worm Cats Naturally

Referrals for Distemper Vets Worldwide


Adopt * Foster * Rescue * Volunteer *Donate

to help all types of animals, search by zip code and type:

Most animals only have 72 hours to be rescued from a shelter before being put to death, so please

make room in your home and heart.  Owner-surrenders, in some states, have less than an hour from their arrival at the shelter

to their arrival in “heaven.”  People have brought their pets dinner and blankets later only to find out their are gone–forever.

If you can’t keep your animals, please safely re-home them or better yet, keep them with you.

Shelters should be the very last resort.  Sadly, millions of adoptable, loving animals are killed each year.  Millions also

wind up tortured in medical research facilities so know who you are entrusting your precious pet to.

**You can use ([email protected]) to give to the Rescue Ranch via paypal or amazon.**


J.D. Ward
Thanks for visiting "For Pets and Their People," my Natural News blog. About J.D.Ward: I've been rescuing and advocating for animals and natural health since forever! I became a vegetarian/vegan most years, because I would rather be friends with animals rather than (ugh!) the alternative. I began writing about animals and health to help them and their people about fifteen years ago. I hope that I can continue to make a difference in their lives. I love learning about new things as much as I love sharing what I learn. Hey--Follow Me! Sending Hugs from the Herd--the Rescue Ranch herd that is! (