Deadly Chinese Dog Treats – Could This Be the Cause?

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Could a controversial source of glycerin be the cause of so many canine deaths associated with imported Chinese dog treats?

The FDA recently began notifying regulated industries that products using oils, glycerin or protein derived from jatropha seeds may be toxic to humans and animals.

Products using jatropha derivatives — like glycerin — include both human and animal foods as well as medical products and cosmetics.

What Is Jatropha?

Jatropha is a hearty shrub that can be grown in semi-tropical and tropical areas throughout the world.

Due to its high oil content and relatively low cost, the plant has recently become an attractive source material for making biodiesel.

Unfortunately, though, unlike other more benign materials used to make biofuels, jatropha may contain unwelcome toxic by-products like phorbol esters.

These compounds exhibit acute and chronic toxicity to humans and animals alike. What’s worse, the actual toxic substances can be found in the glycerin and protein by-products.

Toxic compounds that could easily find their way into dog treats.

However, even though the FDA is unaware of any contamination, conventional impurity test methods may not be able to detect the presence of these toxins.

Could Tainted Glycerin
Be the Cause of the Problem?

After checking various online sources, nearly every Chinese jerky dog treat ingredient list checked by The Dog Food Advisor looked to made with glycerin.

So, could contaminated glycerin be the cause of the problem?

In a word, yes.

According to the FDA manufacturer notification, this appears to be a reasonable possibility.

The Bottom Line

Until the FDA or the industry has positively identified the cause the death of these unfortunate — and innocent — animals, why expose your pet to these avoidable risks?

So, what’s the best course of action?

Avoid feeding these potentially deadly treats in the first place. Don’t buy them. Or if you already have, take them back to the store you got them from.

How to Report Problems

You can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

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  • Ray Ingram

    These Made in China treats are all over Wal Marts, Target Stores, Grocery Outlet stores, K-Marts.

  • Ray Ingram

    My healthy and young French Bulldog suffered for 5 days and just died a few days ago. Made in China Dog treats killed him. Samples sent to a Toxicology Lab and all samples of the treats showed Acute Toxicity. Rest in Peace Rowdy.

  • Nancy Langsjoen

    they are! You are totally right! Even the chicken we eat!

  • Nancy Langsjoen

    yes in tiny writing on the bottom corner of the bag!!!

  • Nancy Langsjoen

    NO THEY ARE MADE IN CHINA!!! CHECK out the tiny label on the bag! My dog is currantly dying from them now!

  • Nancy Langsjoen

    my dog ate them & has been in critical condition ever since 38 days now…Very sick and so am I now..YES the triple chews and they are NOT made in equador,,!! They are made in CHina! I do not know if he will live. $6000.00 later..indoor dog and home cooked for. OUt of all my animals , he is the only one sick and the only one that consumed them. Devastated & very sleep deprive 8 year old 7 lb chihuahua. Feel free to contact me. [email protected]

  • USA Dog Treats

    Hi Zoe

    I am so sorry for your loss. I Believe all dogs go to heaven because they are our angels.

    What you are describing sounds a lot like the version of Bloat where the stomach twists. I don’t know what x-rays were done but I copied this from:

    http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/sagastro/genrev/revgdv.htm

    “A right lateral radiograph is the most helpful view. In right lateral recumbency, the pylorus will often lie dorsally if a GDV is present. The pylorus will thus appear as a separate, dorsal gas filled structure on this view”

    Please be comforted in knowing Chico loved you unconditionally and when you feel up to it do a little reading on Bloat.

  • Zoe Garcia

    My Dog just died for no reason. Vet has no idea what happened to him. We took him in because he was panting all night, vitals were fine, and he went down hill quickly, vomited bile looking stuff, rapid heart beat, pale gums, hard abdomin, not eating, night before drank alot of water, but did not urinate in the morning. Vet said she did blood work, and x-rays which revealed nothing, they gave him oxygen which helped his color but his heart continued to weaken. By the time we nade back to the Vet he was minutes from dealth. We were barely able to say good bye to Chico. We are just confused as to what happened. Necropsie show his stomach was full of blood, and his gallbladder had a hole. No one can say what happen to him. We have done alot trying to figure out what could have possibly of caused this and unfotunatley, noticed these treats made in China. I am so mad and wondering if this could of the been the problem. I am told the lab results may not tell us anything. This will not bring back our beloved dog Chico but everyone should be aware of these treats made in China and Boycott buying them. Spread the word for all who have suffered especially our pets

  • barbeeyorkielover

    I was always told treats were safe if they were from Canada or the US. Now I find out that they can bring in vitamins minerals and food stuffs and then, make the treats. What a farce. I now make my treats, jerky and home made dog food.I do let my Yorkies have Acana duck and pear. It is made in Mornville Alberta Canada.I have been in the plant and it’s great. Look on their site and what you read is true.

  • KL InIdaho

    I have been buying these for my Lab and Scottie; no problems.

  • Shar24

    I am heartbroken for you. I am so sorry for your loss and agree with C4C…it makes me furious too.

  • Crazy4cats

    It is a terrible thing. It makes me furious. I’m sorry for this loss of your dog. I know it’s very painful.

  • Nancy

    Sorry for your loss. My dog also ate jerky purchased at sams club. She loved them. She died last spring. I haven’t forgiving myself for buying them. I miss her dearly.

  • Nancy

    I lost my dog after her loosing use of her back legs then a week at Vet trying to get her back . MY HEART IS BROKEN. no matter how much they love treats….it was a terrible thing to find that the treats sold everywhere are or could kill our dogs.

  • Nancy

    Does anyone know if giving a grown female dog chicken jerky treats purchased at Sams club (not knowing about China) daily that she loved, can cause diabetes?

  • pawanna

    I will NEVER buy anything for my dog and cat that says “made in china” They are such liars you don’t know what you are feeding your pets…. google “Fur Farms in China” and see how they skin animals including dogs and cats alive and send the fur to their clothing factories and then send the crap to us…. just take a look at the photos and videos and see how it will turn your stomache…. most sickening thing I have ever seen….. they are barbarians and we are no better when we buy their pet food and treats…. DON’T DO IT….

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    I’d love to be able to share with you my favorite dog food. However, I really don’t have one overall favorite.

    Besides, it would be unfair to publicly endorse a specific brand while there are so many other good ones to pick from.

    In any case, you may wish to visit our new Editor’s Choice section which is due for launch later this week.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hi Judy, Mike has a new editor’s choice section coming out on March 27. It will have a list of his top picks. You can read about it here. http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-news/coming-soon-editors-choice/

  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    Mike, just curious, but what do you feed your dogs. Dry and/or Canned and/or Treats.

  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    right, feed veggies or fruit like carrots, green beans, apple, banana…. google it, you’ll see.

  • Pattyvaughn

    This particular issue is causing kidney and liver failure, but there are several cancer causing agents found in dog food and treats, like artificial colors and preservatives.

  • Emily

    does it just kill them or give them diseases like cancer? i think that my dog may have cancer and i was wondering the dog treats could have caused it.

  • Ted

    Worse still, is the fact that Canadian treats can be labeled as “Product of Canada” just because the Chineses contents were imported in bulk and then repackaged locally.

  • Ted

    I am sure this stuff killed my German shepherd last year after about 6 months of feeding her chicken jerky as treats. The vet could only say that her liver had failed and she may have had lymphoma. She got sick and we put her down after 3 weeks of agony and about $5000 in vet bills. These people will poison their own children’s milk with melamine… what stops them from poisoning our pets?! They’ll do anything for money. Pet food should have the same label regulations as human food and importers/retailers should be testing for contaminants.

  • Jennifer Ward

    SOME of them are made in Ecuador. I bought a bag at a local store – and it was fine. Then ordered them on Amazon and it was in a similar package/not the same – and was clearly marked Made in China.

  • lauren

    The reason the can get away with says it is made in the USA is because there is a city named USA in Japan.

  • Shep

    Good n Fun triple layer chews are made in Ecuador, I believe, and are sold at Publix. It’s one of the few treats I do give my dogs as they really love them. Honestly, I don’t think anything is wrong with the particular brand, but personally I’m just not going to chance it anymore. I’ll stick with Stella & Chewy or any of the other extra-premium brands, (those not sold at Walmart, Petsmart, Petco etc.)

  • Pattyvaughn

    I would tell my husband that if it’s from China, I’m going to throw it out, so don’t waste the money.

  • InkedMarie

    “Just say no” (to your husband). If it’s made in China then no.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Even *if* that particular brand is fine *this time*, you’re playing with fire, frankly. I’m reminded of something Dr Mike wrote:

    “Treats are only treats. They’re not a necessary part of a fully balanced diet. So, eliminating them will not harm pets.” (see: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-recall/fda-jerky-pet-treat-update/)

    Don’t feed treats at all, problem solved.

  • Patricia

    Has anyone had any bad experiences with Good ‘n Fun Triple Layer Chews? Yes, they are made in China, but my husband says that particular brand is fine. I disagree, so I’m looking for something that will back up my beliefs.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Thanks for the info! I definitely have to dig deeper. I’m learning about making some herbal remedies and some of them are supposed to be vegetable glycerin based, and I have heard so many mixed things about glycerin that I wasn’t sure(still not) if I am going to have to find something else to use.

  • neezerfan

    Xylitol is toxic to dogs. Is it possible the glycerin is acting the same way?

  • Tawnya Eberts-Smith

    Glycerol (or glycerine, glycerin) is a simple polyol (sugar alcohol) compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature. The glycerol backbone is central to all lipids known as triglycerides. Glycerol is sweet-tasting and of low toxicity.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Alcohol sugars are like the xylitol in “sugar free gum,” the body can’t use it and it doesn’t raise blood sugar. Xylitol is considered toxic though, so who knows. I’d never heard of someone classifying glycerin as an alcohol sugar though, more for me to read about.

  • Tawnya Eberts-Smith

    Our dog was only eating Waggin Train Duck Jerky for treats. First it started in his eyes. The vet said he had “cysts” and he lost most of his vision and these “cysts” never went away. Then he was diagnosed with high sugar and being diabetic even though a vet visit within a year prior (before the duck jerky) showed his sugars were fine! Our poor dog is now deceased!!! A Pug.

  • Tawnya Eberts-Smith

    Funny how glycerin is a sugar alcohol and many of the dogs affected ended up with high sugar and diabetes.

  • Tawnya Eberts-Smith

    How do you know it’s not the glycerin? The company was mislabeling it as food grade glycerin when it was industrial grade. There is a big difference. I’m sure your cows aren’t getting industrial grade glycerin.

  • Tawnya Eberts-Smith

    Sorry to hear this! The same happened to our Pug! He first went blind and then the diabetes and he passed away!

  • xxxxx

    You didn’t read the article completely…

    >>glycerin or protein derived from jatropha seeds may be toxic to humans and animals<<

    It appears to be this JATROPHA SEEDS source that may be the problem…

  • Pattyvaughn

    Last I checked, dogs aren’t cows and shouldn’t eat like cows. Oh wait, cows shouldn’t eat like that either.

  • jack n jill

    its not the glycerin in the food it is something else unless it is the berries that glycerin is made of because i feed my cows glycerin from corn oil all the time and they are fine

  • Shanny

    My Boy at almost 3yrs old was Never sick a day in his life. After eating Duck Jerky from China, he went from 150lbs to 90lbs in a month. Poor guy ended up dying 3 days before his third Birthday!! Please do Not Feed this to your dogs

  • reinholdkaren

    I suspect this has happened to my two dogs. One just died of a liver tumor and the other I’m having 3 tumors removed from his skin. I always bought the dog treats that said Made in USA or Product of USA. I don’t trust any of them now. It is pretty heart breaking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Haywood-Udume/1590002148 Haywood Udume

    This is sad. Watched my parents put their lab down last year for kidney failure. Waggin Train jerky is something they used. They brought over some toys, collars, leashes and food for my dogs – I thanked them and trashed them once they left. The illness was so sudden and unexplained, that something just didn’t see right, and I couldn’t bare to use any of the stuff, so in the trash it went, “just to be safe.”

    Would say to avoid all “Made in China” products, but sometimes that is almost impossible to do. Also, China has a lot of chicken to export, so there is nothing that says the “Made in USA” products are not using raw material from China.

    Looks like maybe the easiest/safest thing to do is buy a dehydrator and start making your own chicken jerky or other dog treats at home.

    I received a Dog Treat recipe book for Christmas and have made a few of the recipes. My dog absolutely loved them. I went a little overboard with making them, and discovered that fresh treats will go moldy in a short amount of time, so now we make smaller batches.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Wow, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to loose so many in so short a time.  I’m so sorry for your loss.  You will want to make sure that everything is sourced in the US too, which is much harder to determine, if it’s not on the label.  I found it to be ridiculous so I use a dehydrator and make most of my own treats.

  • Wpolyniak

    PS….. other countries try to fool you, so make certain the product is MADE IN USA and not distributed from a state in the USA; usually somewhere on the package you will see another country was where it was actually made.

  • Wpolyniak

    After the loss of seven dogs from 2006-2011, I was finally informed of this cause. My three current dogs will NEVER have any product not made in the USA.

  • InkedMarie

    I’m so sorry for all your losses :(

  • MissnRAngels

    Three of my four dogs have died this year (different breeds and ages), one this last week.  Two had liver issues.  I found a label from “duck treats” made in China in the cupboard I cleaned out so I know my dogs had those.   We prepared their food at home  but did use commercially made treats including chicken jerky.  Also we did look at packages of chicken jerky that said “made in America.”  but elsewhere in tiny print is “made in china” usually hidden under price tags.   We wonder if china treats are being repackaged as  American.  

  • DUKEWELBY

    IN NEW ENGLAND ALONE THERE 600 CASES OG DOG DEATHS DUE TO KIDNEY FAILURE -DIRECTLY CAUSED BY THESE PRODUCT—FROM CHINA ,DIST. BY WALL-MART , B.J.’S –SAM’S CLUB—THE COMPANY IS AWARE  –MILO’S KITCHEN ,.WAGON TRAIN –MADE BY PURINA AND DEL MONTE

  • http://www.facebook.com/tammi.williams.39 Tammi Williams

    Do not Buy Dog Treats at .99 cents or $1 Dollar type stores ! they are most definitely MADE IN CHINA !

  • http://www.facebook.com/tammi.williams.39 Tammi Williams

     I bake my own dog treats, sometimes from scratch, when I have the time …. So now I will make more time so I wont have to buy as many packaged ones. All it takes is some rice, whole wheat, or unbleached flour, Meat or vegetable broth, an egg or two, some vegetable oil and some cooked meat puree of any kind, chicken, beef, lamb, or turkey. Bake until hard & crunchy and they last about a week. You can also look up Dog Biscuit or ” dog cookie” Recipes for home made treats online.

  • doggonefedup

    Yes, HDP has some good prices. If you get the HDP (happydogplace) brand they are all made here in the USA using human grade materials and no additives. 

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Thanks for posting that site. I’m definitely going to start ordering trachea chews and pig ears from them, I’ve been ordering from Best Bully Sticks but these prices look even cheaper.

  • doggonefedup

    Hey Backyard Wolf,
     I’ll go one better than that.  Happydogplace makes chicken jerky using USDA human grade chicken and nothing else but dry heat. Here is a link for you to check them out for yourself. nice price too
    http://www.happydogplace.com/dogs/index.php?products_id=2006&cPath=54

  • LabsRawesome

     Hi backyard wolf, that’s great that Blue uses U.S. chicken. But just to be 100% sure, I would ask them where they source their Glycerine from.

  • backyard wolf

    Blue buffalo has those new chicken jerky treats that are made in the US with US chicken. They cost more but I’d rather pay more for a treat that is safe.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Etta Says makes duck jerky in the US: http://www.ettasays.com/home.php?cat=6

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Marie Colon – I would strongly advise against feeding anything made in China.

  • Marie Colon

    Are the Canyon Creek duck tenders also tainted? I see they are also made in China. My dog loves the duck treats and I have been giving them to him for a couple months now. If they make the duck and chicken tenders in the same plant, should I be worried?

  • Dave’s Hounds

     ABC that is not against the law – but Target has the right to refuse you to reenter the premises.

  • Lyonpuff2

    I just looked on  Dogswell website — http://www.dogswell.com/qualityassurance It states that some of their treats are made in China. Take a look.

  • Lyonpuff2

    I called Dogswell a few months ago and was told the chicken jerky is made in China. Maybe they’ve changed it recently. I would call to make sure before feeding. They even told me how wonderful their facility in China was!

  • WhippetsGo

    Err, chickens from China

  • WhippetsGo

    All of their products are manufactured in the states but their chickens come from chicken. I am pretty sure their Vitality line says made in USA on the bag. I was fooled twice. no more!

  • AmyB1967

    I believe Real Meat treats are sourced from New Zealand not the U.S. but that is actually good.

  • http://twitter.com/TerieV Terie Vass

    Trader Joe’s seems to have safe dog cookies, I bake normally, but sometimes I’m lazy. jerky? I make my own since my one dog died from the Chinese stuff. Dog food is 85% homemade. I did change brands after finding this site. once people are informed,  most change their ways.

  • http://twitter.com/TerieV Terie Vass

    Until they develope a test to detect the presence of it we won’t know for sure. I get often get a weird little “hunch” about things and I’m often right. I HOPE so, this insanity needs to stop. Today marks 20 weeks without my little Ballistic BJ. NO ONE needs to experience this! Will DM you if i hear more from my expert. 

  • LabsRawesome
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001561912468 Margaret Culberhouse

    They won’t pull them! It’s all about the buck not the dog!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001561912468 Margaret Culberhouse

    It seems a great deal of dog treats come from China reason being their cheap on the wholesale market for the big corps! They all only care about the big buck not your dog! Thats my story and I’m sticken with it!

  • Lyonpuff2

    I just checked ingredients for two dog toothpastes (Tropiclean & Triple Pet). They both contain glycerin. Do I need to be worried about this? Both companies say made in USA. So vegetable glycerin sourced from palm oil is okay? I’m a bit confused about this.

  • Lyonpuff2

    Dogswell treats are from China last time I checked.

  • mason dixon

    The World Trade Organization recently ruled that the USA’s country of origin labeling is a barrier to Free Trade and must be done away with. So very shortly, we will have no way of knowing if our food (human or pet) was made in China. Globalization is the gift that just keeps on giving.

  • Alkemyst

    That would be breaking the law.  The problem is until the proof of all this is validated and offical it’s sort of hearsay.  I’d write to the corporate office though.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Terie,

    I’d like to publicly recognize and thank you for sending me the tip about the FDA’s warning to manufacturers about the jatropha glycerin.

    Even though we don’t know for sure if this is the cause, it’s an interesting concept to consider.

    Thanks again for the tip.

  • abc

     i don’t get it either.  i tried to get the mgr at Target to listen to me and all they did was give me a postcard and said to write to corporate office.  they can’t do anything until corp. tells them to pull it.
    I was thinking of printing up some info from the website, setting it on the shelf and remove all the bad treats and move them to another part of the store.  like the automotive dept .  is that against the law?

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Tracy: Just check with the company to verify the product is made in the US and the ingredients are sourced from the US. Some brands I know of that make jerky treats that are manufactured in the US and sourced from the US are: Plato, A Dog’s Life, Bixbi, Zuke’s, Petguard, Smartdog, Castor & Pollux, Real Meat, and Primal. Just double check everything before you buy.

  • Tracy

    There may have been an article about brands that are safe but I have not seen it so if anyone has a link to an article about brands that are safe for our pets please post or repost it. Thank you.

  • Pinkfeatherquilt

    So is it any vegetable glycerin, or only the treats that are sourced from the jatropha?  I just called the company that I buy treats from, and she was really sweet – she said their vegetable glycerin is sourced from US Palm Oil, and they do not import any of their ingredients from China.

  • http://twitter.com/TerieV Terie Vass

    Thanks for listening Mike and looking into this. I may be off base but when I was given those 2 words and did research, it made so much sense to me.

  • Alkemyst

    Unfortunately until the ‘outcome’ is official, merchants will sell the products esp. since there are no easy alternatives.  I order farm grown and prepared products online.

    Another thing I do not buy anymore is ‘pet-quality’ meat.  This can come off the 4-D list and usually does (Dead, disabled, diseased, dying).

  • LindaT

    In Costco yesterday and once again checked their array of dog jerky treats…and yes they are still selling the ones made in China. I spoke with a store manager and filed a formal complaint. 

    Here is what is really important because many people do not read all the ingredients.  There are some brands that say US grown poultry–BUT the problem isn’t in the meat per se, it is in the chemicals used in preparing the jerky…those additives DO come from China.  

  • Clucy4

    Our dog suddenly started losing weight and we took her to the vet.  Her liver was inflammed and her blood sugars were sky high.  We have two dogs and the other dog is unaffected. Our dog is now blind and diabetic.  I think it was due to the treats that were fed to her.  I no longer buy ANY food or treats from China.  I feel as though we should stop buying ANY food items from China, for pets or humans.

  • Terri

    I just can’t understand why these products are still on store shelves!!!  It’s insane!  

  • Alkemyst

    I’d stick with american-made treats even though they are about double the cost of the common pet store items.

  • dugitup – Canine fact checker

    Thanks Dr Mike.

    I never suspected the vegetable glycerin. Usually that is a better product than non vegetable glycerin. I still think that irradiation might have something to do with it.

    I called Free Range and Dogswell and I asked about their chicken wraps.

    They both said that their chicken wraps do not contain any glycerin and are not irradiated

  • guest

    These treats need to be pulled from retailer’s shelves!