Are We Killing Our Pets With Treats?

Nearly 600 dogs have died since 2007 who consumed pet jerky treats made in China, according to the†Food and Drug Administration. Another 3,600 dogs have been reported ill. The pet treats were sold under a wide variety of brand names.

The FDA currently does not know the cause of this outbreak and is reaching out to veterinary health professionals, as well as the public, for answers to help solve the mystery. Since the FDA is unable to determine the cause, no recall has been put in place, meaning pet owners need to make more educated decisions about what pet treats are safe to use.

I recently spoke with pet nutrition expert Anthony Bennie about the outbreak. He provided some insight and helpful knowledge on feeding our pets healthy treats.

LS: How long do you think this has been going on?

AB: Itís been going on since it became evident that itís possible to sell really cheap versions of what people want here. Itís one thing to copy electronics, another to copy pet treats. When you take the theory of cheapest practices and apply that to what you put in your animals’ mouths, it is a recipe for disaster.

LS: What do you think caused the recent outbreak, with number of death and illnesses still on the rise?

AB: Irradiation (the process of exposing pet food and treats to radiation as a means of eliminating foodborne microbes and killing pests) and glycerin (a humectant preservative) in virtually all pet treats from China in pet treats from China. There have been issues with pet food ingredients and finished treats from China for quite some time, including the massive recalls in 2007 that were traced to melamine, a non-edible protein additive used in China to adulterate and cheapen the products.

LS: Have there been studies done on the dangers of using glycerin and irradation together?

AB: The use of both glycerin and irradiation in the same product is troubling to me. No proper studies have been done to determine the possible synergistic effects. For the health and safety of your pets, as a first step I strongly encourage pet guardians to buy pet treats and foods made and sourced in the USA; but even then, be a detailed label reader and avoid products with chemical preservatives or other ingredients that you canít pronounce and donít recognize as foods.

NEXT: The FDA’s statement on pet treats.

LS: The FDA made a recent statement that treats aren’t a necessary part of a fully balanced canine diet. Honestly, I was appalled by the ignorance of this statement. In addition to the nutritional value,† my dogs are paid and rewarded well with treats. Nobody wants to work for free, including dogs.

AB: Our pets are an extension of the family, so news like we’ve been hearing is very worrisome for any pet guardian. But to make a statement like this, which could damage many ethical American pet treat manufacturers, is bizarre and unfair. No one is claiming ANY problems with American made treats. It would be absurd to allow these fears to stop you from offering your pet ANY treats or between meal snacks. Think of your own energy level throughout the day; would you want to eat nothing all day until your single nightly meal? Itís the same with your animal companions, who can lose vitality and playfulness if these Ďpick me upsí are simply cut out of the diet. Emotional bonding is also reinforced when providing healthy snacks to your pet, and training often involves food rewards. Give your pet treats and snacks in moderation as you always have. But stick with USA Made, grain free, low carb, natural snacks that are dominated by meat protein but offer a holistic balance with other whole food nutrients such as flax and veggies.

LS: I frequently give my dogs fruit and vegetable treats. They love shredded carrots and cut up apple pieces. When purchasing healthy treats, what should we look for?

AB: A healthy pet treat that is 100% USA made and sourced, and features all-natural and wholesome ingredients like USDA inspected chicken and beef along with natural cheddar cheese, organic flaxseed, and air dried vegetables. My family-owned company,, provides that in our dog treats. I am proud to say that we have won six national awards for nutritional excellence. People tell us that our Slidersģ are like doggy crack. Dogs will do anything for them. (By the way, we have a special offer for Care2 members. Click to view our special offer for Care2 members and you’ll get 20% off of any order. Enjoy!)

LS: Thanks Anthony. I can’t wait to have Sanchez and Gina try them too! I’m thrilled that all of your treats are gluten free, as my dogs are gluten intolerant, and I don’t always have time to make all of their treats myself.

Do you give your dogs treats/ snacks? Do you look at the package to check the ingredients and where they are made? Thanks for sharing your stories in a comment below.

Sign this petition asking to ban all poisonous chicken jerky treats imported from China.


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Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brownabout a year ago

thanks for sharing :)

Kamia T.
Kamia T.1 years ago

In a sense, we're partly at fault for becoming consumers over the last 20 years or so who are only interested in having the "most" at the lowest possible cost. Before that, quality (over quantity) was much more emphasized. What my grandmother said is true, you get what you pay for. We can't be giving American workers $10/ hour minimum wages and then expect to pay $0.50 for a bag of dog treats.

Brenda P.
.1 years ago

Why and how do these companies get away with this?????? It really pisses me off!!!!!! They should get a fine or have some other kind of punishment for hurting/killing family pets.

Tsandi Crew
Tsandi Crew1 years ago

Another ingredient... sodium selenium... is a by product of copper mining and is 10 times more deadly than cyanide. The correct selenium should be selenomethionine. I don't buy anything with sodium selenium in it for my cat... or when I have dogs, for them either.

I wish i could get my picky cat to eat home made food. I'd be feeding him organic food. But he is addicted to all that grain, so I'm weaning him off it and on to grain free food. The grain has made him fat. Just like it makes us fat. This isn't the world I grew up in. Thanks for your article... more stuff to avoid. But good to know.

Tania S.
Tania S.1 years ago

I think that is what may have killed my last dog at the age of 3. I only use stuff now made in the USA

Lynn Curwin
Lynn Curwin2 years ago

There are many great dogs treats made in places like Canada, the UK and the US. When I leave for work I always give my dog a small treat. One of his favourite treats is Tofurkey and he is sure to be watching if I have it out to make a sandwich.Because it isn't hard to chew it was an excellent treat for him after he had some teeth removed last month.

Julie C.
Julie C.2 years ago

We check where the treats come from, but the treats we give our dog usually have a second purpose like being good for teeth or digestion and he loves them beyond reason, just because they're special.

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton2 years ago

Why are all the treats and food being made overseas by people who don't even have enough to eat themselves? Why would they even care what happens to our pets.


julie gaines
Julie Gaines2 years ago

Time to boycott all food from China!

Christine Franks
Christine Franks2 years ago

I tell pet stores I visit to NOT stock ANYTHING from China! Bowls, leashes, beds, toys, etc! I REFUSE to buy one thing from that cruel place!