A dog food manufacturer that has recalled contaminated products is accused of sickening hundreds of pets and most recently in the death of a beloved Pekingese, The Post reports.
DreamBone’s chews, made by $3 billion conglomerate Spectrum Brands Holdings, have come under fire from pet owners and food and safety watchdogs on message boards.
One grieving owner, Liz Brannen, blames DreamBone Twists for Pekingese Boogie’s agonizing death on December 11th.
Shortly after eating the treat, Boogie started vomiting and had bloody diarrhea. Within 24 hours, he was gone, the tearful owner told The Post.
“He was screaming at the end and in such pain, but the day before he was completely normal,” Brannen said. “It really bothers me that a company is selling something that can kill dogs.”
The Bellville, Texas, resident quickly realized she wasn’t the only heartbroken pet owner with a beef with DreamBone chews, which are sold by major retailers including Walmart, Target and Chewy.
Complaints about DreamBone have been around for nearly a decade, but in the past few months, Safelyhq.com, which tracks consumer health and safety issues, has seen an uptick in complaints.
There have been 70 DreamBone complaints on the site this year alone, nearly double the number in 2021, and the majority have come in since October.
“We are particularly concerned about the recent increase in reports involving DreamBone dog food,” Patrick Quade, founder of Safetyhq, told The Post. “There is a big difference in the number of reports and the severity of the damage in our data.”
The Food and Drug Administration is also submitting reports from concerned pet owners, the agency told The Post.
“The FDA has received several dozen complaints related to DreamBone,” a spokesperson said. “We continue to review these complaints, but cannot respond to each individual case.”
Last year, the agency issued a warning letter to Midwestern Pet Foods after the company’s product was linked to 130 dog deaths and hundreds of sick dogs. And in 2020, the agency recalled a pet food from another brand, Sportmix, made by Midwestern Pet Foods, after at least 28 dogs died from products containing high levels of toxic mold. Spectrum Brands is not affiliated with Midwestern Pet Foods.
DreamBone has been mentioned in hundreds of posts from customers whose dogs allegedly fell ill or died after receiving the treatment, including on social media platforms such as Amazon, blogs and Reddit.
The Middletown, Wis.-based company owns brands as diverse as Cutter bug repellent, Remington grooming products and Black + Decker appliances, but most of the product recalls are in the pet care division.
Spectrum Brands, which is publicly traded, did not respond to multiple emails and calls to senior executives.
Spectrum Brands recalled rawhide dog chews in 2017 after a supplier in Brazil was found to be using an ammonium-containing chemical “approved for cleaning food processing equipment” in its rawhide products.
Spectrum acknowledged that dogs can experience “stomach irritation, including diarrhea and vomiting” after eating raw hides, including brands such as Digest-eeze and Healthy Hide, and can be treated by a veterinarian “depending on the severity.”
The company bought the troubled DreamBone brand from New Jersey-based Petmatrix in 2017. The chews are manufactured overseas in Vietnam, Mexico and China and are marketed as “skinless” and “highly digestible.”
A year before the acquisition, Petmatrix faced a class-action lawsuit brought by a dog owner whose dog needed surgery after eating DreamBone. The complaint alleged that its ingredients were “non-digestible” and contained “large amounts” of Sorbitol, “broadly characterized and classified by the FDA as a non-digestible sugar alcohol and used as a laxative.”
After the plaintiff’s dog, Maxie, was given DreamBone, he started vomiting and had “bloody rectal discharge,” according to the complaint. Maxie underwent surgery to remove “a large piece of dog chew that matched DreamBone’s description,” the complaint states.
The vet said that without the surgery, “Maxie would have died,” court documents show, according to the eventually settled lawsuit.
Other pet owners have considered legal action, including Stacey Carlisle of Atlanta, whose Bijon-Shih Tzu mix Bella died in September 2020.
“The vet found pieces of DreamBone in his digestive system,” Carlyle told The Post. “It was unsolvable.”
Specter offered to solve, “me and [another dog owner who was part of the proposed litigation] about $5,000 a piece,” Carlisle said. But she declined the offer and instead took her story to a local news station to warn other pet owners.
Spectrum Brands released a statement to the news station at the time: “The health and safety of all dogs who enjoy our DreamBone products is our highest priority. We believe these claims are unfounded and stand behind the quality and safety of our DreamBone products.”
Logan Rothstein, who believes his 8-year-old chihuahua Hercules died in 2019 because of DreamBone, has run a three-year campaign to raise awareness of the number of complaints, reaching out to the FDA, retailers and the media. DreamBone.
“I don’t think Spectrum has consistently made a bad product,” Rothstein said. But he believes that because the product is manufactured overseas, it has “very little quality control.”