St. Louis, Mo., March 11, 2010
– A popular pet treat distributed by a meat company in Washington, Mo., and sold in stores across the United States is under attack by dog owners who blame the product for injuring or killing their animals.
The BBB says consumers should be very cautious when giving “Real Ham Bone For Dogs” to their pets. The bones are distributed under the Dynamic Pet Products
label of Frick’s Quality Meats of Washington
Several consumers said their dogs became seriously ill or died when the animals ate pieces of the bones, causing damage or blockage to internal organs.
A veterinarian who surgically removed bone fragments from one of the dogs said, “Things like this shouldn’t happen. If you can’t say it’s safe, it probably isn’t something you should have in stores.”
The company has denied any wrongdoing and a manager there says most consumers are fully satisfied with the bones.
Four consumers have filed BBB complaints against Dynamic Pet Products. Other consumers say the company denied their requests to pay medical bills.
A woman from Richardson, Tex., told the BBB the meat company paid for a new dog after she claimed her bull terrier died after eating one of the bones. Under terms of her agreement with the company, the settlement is confidential. The woman described her dog’s death as “violent” and “horrific.”
Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO, said consumers appear to have a legitimate reason to be concerned. “There simply are too many of these cases to ignore. Consumers have a right to expect that items sold commercially for their pets will not end up causing them harm.”
Sara Frick-Mades, director of plant services for Dynamic Pet Products, told the BBB in an email that the company would not release information on numbers or types of complaints it has received about the product.
“I can tell you that the praises and compliments far outweigh the complaints or concerns received,” Frick-Mades said.
The website for Dynamic Pet Products, dynamicpetproducts.net, shows a photo of a large dog with a bone in its mouth. The website and product marketing materials shows the business’s cartoon mascot, a running dog with clenched teeth, wearing a red superhero cape. “Give the dog a bone . . .,” says the website. “Nine out of ten dogs choose us!”
The site says Dynamic Pet Products was started in 2001 “to offer some of the best pet products possible to the public. We’re proud of our track record and reputation for offering some of the best products in class!”
The website notes that the bones are “smoked.”
Dr. Tony Buffington, professor of veterinary clinical services at Ohio State University, said that the more cooked a bone is, the greater the likelihood of the bone splintering and potentially causing problems. He said it is important to weigh the risks against the benefits in giving any food product to your pet. He said pet owners should always use caution when giving a bone to a dog.
The bones are sold in stores across the country, including in the St. Louis area. They retail for about $3 each. The bones are sold wrapped in plastic with labels that say “100% FOOD GRADE INGREDIENTS.” Just beneath those words, in smaller type, is a warning to pet owners:
“Supervise your pet while consuming any natural bone product,” the warning says in part. “Not recommended for dogs with digestive problems or aggressive chewers. Remove bone immediately if splintering occurs or small fragments break off.” The label also says that the “Pet owner assumes liability associated with the use of this or any natural bone product.”
Most pet owners interviewed by the BBB said they did not read the label. They said they assumed the bones were safe because they are sold in grocery and other stores.
A dog owner from Hebron, Ind., said she purchased a Dynamic Pet Products “Real Ham Bone” from a grocer in February last year. She said she gave the bone to her 75-pound Husky-Rottweiler mix, but took it away after she noticed it appeared to be splintering. Less than an hour later, the dog suddenly became lethargic and appeared ill, she said. When the animal had not recovered by the next morning, she took it to her veterinarian, who ultimately performed surgery to remove multiple bone fragments that had caused blockage in the animal’s intestine.
“She was in pretty bad shape,” the woman said. “She nearly died.”
The woman’s veterinarian told the BBB that she used her hand to clean “a bunch of pieces of bone” from the dog’s intestine and moved other pieces to a point where they could be excreted by the animal. The woman said the company’s insurance carrier declined to pay the $1,250 veterinary bill.
A woman from O’Fallon, Mo., who also filed a complaint with the BBB over the bone, said that in March 2008 she gave the same products to a boxer and a Jack Russell terrier.
“It was my first and last time,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to try it again.”
She said that soon after giving the dogs the bones, they both began to vomit stomach material that included splintered pieces of bone. She said the animals were ill for two days. She said she contacted the company, which told her the product was safe. She said they offered her coupons for more of the bones, but she rejected the offer.
A man from Memphis, Tenn., said a veterinarian had to surgically remove “a lot of cartilage” that was obstructing the intestine of his Boston terrier after the dog chewed on a “Real Ham Bone” for a short period of time last July.
The owner said the problem occurred even though he had closely monitored the animal and the bone “never fragmented. The bony part was in good condition when I disposed of it,” he said.
He said he initially planned to ask the company to pay the $1,000 veterinary bill, but became discouraged after reading Internet reports that the company had rejected requests from other pet owners that they be reimbursed.
A dog owner from Albuquerque, N.M., said he bought a Dynamic Pet Products ham bone from a Santa Fe grocery store last month and gave it to his 6-year-old dachshund. He said the animal had been in “perfect health” before he gave it the bone. Not long after the dog had chewed on the bone, it became ill, vomiting several times.
The Albuquerque owner said he thought the dog seemed tired, but appeared to be getting better the next day when he left for lunch. When he returned, the dog was dead and bled from its mouth when he lifted it. He said a veterinarian told him it appeared an object had ruptured the dog’s stomach or intestine. “One day he was there and the next day he was gone,” he said of the dog.
A pet owner from Long Beach, Calif., told the BBB that medical scans of her 9-year-old cocker spaniel showed an intestinal blockage when the animal became ill after eating portions of a Dynamic Pet Products ham bone. Bills for the treatment totaled $4,000, she said.
A Brandon, Fla., woman sent the BBB copies of extensive veterinary reports compiled during surgery and follow-up treatment of her pet beagle after the animal was given a Dynamic Pet Products ham bone. The reports indicated an 8 centimeter intestinal blockage caused by “small, chewed bony fragments.” The animal subsequently died. The woman said the company’s insurer said it would not pay her veterinary bills.
In most cases, no necropsies were done on animals that died after eating the bone. But a 2008 necropsy on a 7-year-old male Akita at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine noted a “severe ulceration” of the animal’s colon caused by ingested bone.
The examination also revealed that the bone had caused an obstruction in the colon. The dog’s owner told the BBB the company refused to pay $4,000 in veterinary bills, saying it was not responsible.
An article on the website WebMD, entitled “Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat,” suggests that pet owners not give bones to dogs.
"Although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, a dog can choke on it,” the report says. “Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system.” Contacts:
Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-3300, firstname.lastname@example.org
or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-645-3300, email@example.com