THE BLOG
06/03/2014 10:29 am ET Updated Aug 03, 2014

Sit. Stay. Stay Away from Dog Treats from China!

Dogs are smart. They are also trusting. They will eat, therefore, whatever their owners give them, in particular treats (chicken or duck jerky....) though it's true that some treats are eaten with more gusto than others. Some of these goodies, according to the FDA, have been linked to over 5,600 dogs becoming sick and 1,000 dying in the last few years. Dog treats made in China turn out to be a link to these illnesses and deaths.

Large pet retail companies have announced that they've pulled the treats from their shelves, but products with "Made in China" buried in lines of small print (or in one case) hidden on the bottom of a "pocket" package are still available in supermarkets and large drugstore chains across the U.S.

The FDA also warns that products do not have to list every single ingredient, so U.S. companies might end up still selling "compromised" products not identified as such.

Sixty percent of the affected dogs suffered gastrointestinal stress and 30 percent experienced kidney or urinary blockage, convulsions and breathing difficulty. The human anti-viral chemical amantadine, highly toxic to pets, has been traced in some of the Chinese treats.

My little dog, Coleman, a 4 year old "rescue," (Pomeranian, terrier and mini-Aussie shepherd mix) has had steady cravings for a particular "Made in China" jerky, choosing it every time over a "Made in the USA" version. He has seemed nearly addicted to the "China" treats.

After Coleman suffered an out-of-the-blue terrifying attack of pancreatitis (which can be fatal, and fast) and thankfully came home restored to health after his stay in the emergency hospital, I conducted a completely random and very limited "survey." One morning, standing in my kitchen, I pulled three packages of treats from Coleman's "food" cupboard and found a "Made in China" stamped on the bottom in micro-script on each one. I was about to toss them all into the trash, but instead I picked up my phone and called the "customer service" phone number on each packet.

There were three product phone numbers that I called. All of the company "spokespeople" to whom I spoke admitted, somewhat reluctantly, that their products were indeed manufactured in China. When I asked one company rep, a rather testy woman, why they didn't make their treats right here in the U.S., she informed me that there were "certain" ingredients that were only "available in China" -- she said they could not get these special ingredients in the U.S. I told her that that sounded preposterous -- surely ingredients for pet treats would be easy to find in the U.S. -- why go to China for them? I kept pressing her to say more, but she would not.

Yet when I hung up, I realized that she had, in a sense, admitted to something disturbing. Declaring that there was "something special" and unattainable in the U.S. added to the treats in China seemed to indicate that what was added was quite possibly FDA-restricted in the U.S. -- or, further, an ingredient addicting to pets. Otherwise, the China necessity made no sense.

I don't have proof of wrongdoing -- and I certainly can't say with any certainty that the "special ingredient" referred to is toxic or addicting. But the simple fact is that my dog Coleman once just couldn't enough of the Chinese treats -- the good old U.S.A. yummies didn't even register.

Now, however, he's been "weaned" from China -- and eats his USA chicken jerky with enthusiasm. But "canine caveat emptor"! Some of those products are still on store shelves. Stay away! And "speak" to store owners -- tell them to lob the treats back across the ocean. Enough is enough. Ruff.