Killing With Kindness: Toxic Dog Treats Warning

Here’s a photo of  heathy, happy English Bulldog Shelby taken in December 2012 when her owner started giving her what he thought were healthy natural treats bought at the grocery store.


Here she is in May 2013, six months later, a couple weeks before she died.  She was only 2 years old.




She died of kidney failure from eating Chicken Jerky treats from Thailand. She loved them and her owners thought it was fine to give them to her as a reward or just because she enjoyed them so much.

If you have treats like these, return them to the store you purchased from and tell them to remove them from their shelves.  If you see them on the shelf tell them this story.

Here’s the sad cautionary tale submitted by Debbie Woods:

Dog Treat Warnings – Why Didn’t We See Them?

Recently, our family’s two year old English Bulldog lost her life due to kidney failure.

There are no words to describe the horrific shock of being told your dog’s kidneys are failing and then asked by the vet what treats she was given. After the test results came back, I thought I was just going to pick her up with some meds and instructions.  The diagnosis was so bleak and devastating.   How does a two year old get kidney failure?  It didn’t make any sense.  The Dr. tried to save her life and we prayed for a miracle.

There have been a mounting number of reported cases to the Canadian and Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, possibly linking imported chicken jerky treats from China and Thailand, to kidney failure.  Although under complex investigation, a contaminant has yet to be identified.  To date, scientists have not been able to determine a cause for the reported illnesses.  The company is allowed to sell them.  There is no proof.  There is no recall.

Shockingly, these treats remain on the shelves of major grocery and pet food stores being sold to unsuspecting pet owners.  The labelling and marketing are clever.  Some appear to be made in Canada.  Buried in the fine print, are the words, “imported by…,” but the company is not required to tell consumers from where.

In 2011, the FDA issued a cautionary warning against chicken jerky treats imported from China.  In 2012, the warning was expanded to include duck and sweet potato jerky treats.

According to the FDA, up to 360 canine deaths in the U.S., as of late 2012 have been blamed on pet treats, but there hasn’t yet been a definitive way to find the toxin responsible.

After Shelby’s death, we began looking for answers, researching dog treats and the possible link to kidney failure.  It’s sickening to see the flood of reports on this topic.  There’s so much of it, how could we have missed this?  Any number of key words would have brought the topic up in a search.

Shelby didn’t display all the symptoms of kidney failure.  They were so gradual and subtle, we overlooked them.  We are responsible pet owners, and if this could happen to us, I know this can happen to other pet owners.

While researching dog food five years ago, we found Jan Oswald and purchased, “The Healthy Bulldog.”  After receiving this information, we were educated on healthy food choices for our dogs, and within six weeks, they were looking great and feeling happy.  I concentrated on dog food, because that’s what they mainly eat.  What goes into them, certainly is going to affect their health.

Why didn’t we do as good a job researching dog treats? –  We didn’t think one treat every other day or once a day, (Shelby had them for 5 months this way), would do any harm.  None of us did.  It seemed like such a small amount to even worry about.  Besides, if there was a problem, the company would recall them – they wouldn’t be on the shelves of major stores – right?  WRONG.

It is up to consumers to educate themselves on pet food.  According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, it is not a regulated food commodity in Canada.  Go online, type in the brand name, know what you’re buying and make your own wise decisions.   Your pet’s health depends on it.  There are many safe alternatives produced domestically in the U.S. and Canada.  I have just learned there is an actual “human grade” pet food.  What could be better?

By the time it was obvious Shelby needed medical attention, it was too late.  Within 48 hours, she was gone.  She declined very rapidly.

It’s devastating and heart wrenching, knowing this could have been prevented if we only researched.  This concern has been going on for some time.  Ours is not an isolated case.   The Vet did not have the means to determine whether the treats were the cause of Shelby’s death or not.

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association has advised pet owners refrain from feeding any sort of chicken jerky treat, especially those imported from China or Thailand, until more information can be found as to whether they are responsible for these potentially life threatening reactions.

After the diagnosis, I needed to retrieve information requested by the Vet.  Coincidentally, the staff was taking Shelby outside when I pulled in.  She began walking toward the car.  She thought I had come to take her home.  It shattered my heart into a million pieces knowing I could never take her home again.  I could only kiss her, for what I knew would be the last time, and tell her to go with the girls.  Other stronger family members remained to comfort her during the euthanization process.

Please don’t let another pet suffer a needless, tragic death.  Go to the websites of The Canadian and Ontario Veterinary Association, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the FDA to see the warnings they have issued.  Unfortunately, some large manufacturers of pet food don’t always look out for our best interests.

It’s too late for us, but not for others.  Early detection of kidney failure is essential and can save your pet.   If you have any concerns, please contact your Vet.   A blood test will reveal so much about your pet’s health.  It is a natural survival instinct for your pet to hide illnesses.

In Memory Of Shelby

Who Went To Romp In The Fields of Heaven, May 10, 2013

Debbie Woods

Napanee, Ontario, Canada