Dog owners claim treats are making pups violently ill — and may have killed one pet

A dog food maker with a history of recalling contaminated products is being accused of sickening hundreds of pets — and the recent death of a beloved Pekingese, The Post has learned.

DreamBone’s line of chews, which are made by $3 billion conglomerate Spectrum Brands Holdings, has come under fire from pet owners on message boards and from food and safety watchdogs.

One grieving owner, Liz Brannen, blames DreamBone Twists for causing her Pekingese, Boogie, to suffer an agonizing death on Dec. 11.

Boogie started vomiting and having bloody diarrhea shortly after eating the treat. Within 24 hours she was gone, the tearful owner told The Post. 

“She was screaming at the end and in such pain, but she was perfectly normal the day before,” Brannen said. “It really bothers me that a company would sell something that can kill dogs.” 

The Bellville, Texas, resident quickly learned that she’s not the only heartbroken pet owner with a beef against DreamBone chews, which are sold by major retailers including Walmart, Target and Chewy.

Boggie laid out on a rug.
Boogie ate a DreamBone chew on Dec. 10 and became violently ill afterwards, which her owner Liz Bannen claims resulted in the dog’s death the next day.
Liz Brannen

Complaints about DreamBone span nearly a decade, but they began to spike over the past several months on, a web site that tracks consumer health and safety issues.

This year alone, there have been 70 DreamBone complaints on the site, nearly twice as many as in 2021, with most pouring in since October.

“The recent surge in reports mentioning DreamBone dog treats is especially concerning to us,” Safetyhq’s founder Patrick Quade told The Post. “It is a huge outlier in our data, in terms of the number of reports and the severity of harm caused.”

The Food and Drug Administration is also fielding reports from concerned pet owners, the agency told The Post.

“The FDA has received several dozen complaints associated with DreamBone,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We are continuing to look into these complaints, but we can’t respond to each individual case.” 

Last year, the agency sent 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 pet food from another brand made by Midwestern Pet Foods, called Sportmix, after at least 28 dogs died from products with high levels of toxic mold. Spectrum Brands is not affiliated with Midwestern Pet Foods.

DreamBone is mentioned in hundreds of posts on web sites, including Amazon, blogs and social media platforms like Reddit from distraught customers whose dogs allegedly became sick or died after being given the treat.

Boggie and Liz Brannen.
Boogie and her owner Liz Brannen.
Liz Brannen

The Middletown, Wis.-based company owns such disparate brands as Cutter bug repellent, Remington grooming products and Black + Decker appliances, but the majority of its product recalls are within its pet care division.

Publicly held Spectrum Brands did not respond to numerous emails and calls to senior executives. 

Spectrum Brands recalled rawhide dog chew products in 2017 after it discovered that a supplier in Brazil had been using an “ammonium compound” chemical that is “approved for cleaning food processing equipment” in its rawhide products, according to the company’s website.

Spectrum acknowledged that dogs may experience “gastric irritation, including diarrhea and vomiting” after eating the raw hides – including such brands as Digest-eeze and Healthy Hide – and may need treatment by a veterinarian “depending on the severity.”

The company acquired the troubled DreamBone brand in 2017 from New Jersey-based Petmatrix. The chews are manufactured abroad in Vietnam, Mexico and China and are marketed as “rawhide free” and “highly digestible.” 

A package of DreamBone Twists.
The package that Liz Brannen bought for her dog.
Liz Brannen

A year before the acquisition, Petmatrix was slapped with a proposed class-action lawsuit from a dog owner whose pooch needed surgery after he ate a DreamBone. The complaint alleged that its ingredients were “indigestible” and included a “large amount” of Soribtol, which is “widely characterized and classified, including by the FDA, as an indigestible sugar alcohol, and is used as a laxative.”

After the plaintiff’s dog, Maxie, had been given a DreamBone he began vomiting and had “bloody discharge from his rectum,” according to the complaint. Maxie underwent surgery to remove “a large piece of a dog chew, which matched the description of the DreamBone,” the complaint states. 

The veterinarian said “Maxie would have died,” if not for the surgery, according to the lawsuit, which was eventually settled, court filings show.

Other pet owners have also considered initiating legal proceedings, including Stacy Carlyle of Atlanta, whose Bijon-Shih Tzu mix, Bella, died in September 2020.

“The vet found pieces of DreamBone in her digestive tract,” Carlyle told The Post. “It wouldn’t dissolve.”

Spectrum offered to settle, “giving me and [another dog owner who was part of the proposed litigation] about $5,000 a piece” Carlyle said. But she rebuffed the offer and instead took her story to a local news station to warn other pet owners.

The backside of a DreamBone package.
DreamBone is manufactured in Vietnam, Mexico and China.
Liz Brannen

Spectrum Brands issued a statement at the time to the news station: “The health and safety of all dogs who enjoy our DreamBone products is our highest priority. We believe there is no merit to these allegations and we 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 waged a three-year campaign – reaching out the to FDA, retailers and the media – to raise awareness about the number of complaints against DreamBone.

“I don’t think Spectrum makes a consistently bad product,” Rothstein said. But he believes because the product is made overseas that it likely has “very little quality control.” 

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