Dogswell slams Poisoned Pets over safety of Vitality treats

Dogswell is on the defense following an article on Poisoned Pets that there were reports from veterinarians of serious health issues  possibly associated with a number of other types and brands of pet treats, including Dogswell Vitality pet treats.

The news that other treats, besides chicken jerky treats, may also be causing similar health problems with a variety of other treats, including Dogswell’s treats, didn’t sit well with them. Not because they were worried about pets, but because it was bad for business. Instead of showing genuine concern, or at the very least feigning it, Dogswell went on the attack.

The news regarding the expanded alert was initially published by Dr. Jean Hofve, a veterinarian and author of the popular site called Little Big Cat. Dr. Hofve’s article outlined a discussion by number of veterinarians on Veterinary Information News’ (VIN) private forum;  in which veterinarians expressed concern that other types of treats types may also be of concern, including dehydrated sweet potato treats, dehydrated pork (pig’s ears) and treats marketed to cats.

Several brands were named, among them was Dogswell.  Dogswell has responded by emphatically stating the “report” has no validity. Dogswell cited their oft touted “Quality Assurance” program along with lab test results “proving” their safety. While I applaud this type of transparency, it is by no means an absolute assurance that their treats are or are not completely free from every toxin known to man. It simply means they have gone through the trouble of testing a few of the more common contaminants.

Just like other companies that try to placate consumers with meaningless assurances and vehemently claim their products are safe because they have not found the contaminant — that being “proof” that their product is completely safe is, well, ludicrous.  Since no one, including the FDA, knows what the toxic factor is, their test results are meaningless.

Dogswell didn’t like the implication and decided, unwisely, to take their dislike public. Beginning with a snarky posted on Poisoned Pets’ Facebook Page:

“DOGSWELL has tried to contact you regarding this story, and all our response comments on your blog are being deleted. Our Sweet Potato Treats are completely safe. We test extensively and post our test results online. We have not received any such reports and we track every customer call that comes in.

Poisoned Pets response:

“Couple of things Dogswell – first of all, I have never deleted any comment from Dogswell on my website Poisoned Pets. However, I did receive a private message from Dogswell which I did not feel was necessary to comply with.

Second, I did not respond to your private request to remove information regarding news I reported on regarding Dogswell Vitality pet treats from a credible source (veterinarian Dr. Jean Hofve) which I referenced.

When I report on a subject as serious as this, I make sure my sources are well-respected news sources. Should you wish to dispute what the veterinarians on Veterinary Information Network (, I invite you to take it up with them – not me.

Furthermore, if you would send me the test results of the Vitality treats (imported from China) referenced in the original article, I will be more than happy to evaluate them and provide my readers the results of your studies.

I have looked at the test result posted on Dogswell for the Vitality Sweet Potato, and I do not feel they are an adequate assurance of “quality”.

Should you wish to reassure your customers I would suggest testing for the other most commonly known nephrotoxins, as an example.f you have conducted any further testing, including a broader scope of contaminates with a particular emphasis on nephrotoxins, you may e-mail them as an attachment to

Veterinary Information Network (VIN) – For Veterinarians, By Veterinarians
The Veterinary Information Network is the oldest and largest online medical info…See More


“Mollie, The “report” you’re referring to on VIN was merely a single comment on a message board stating that a vet had a patient who had eaten three brands of sweet potato treats and gotten sick. He listed all three brands consumed, although he did not know which brand had caused the problem. A comment on a message board is not a “report” it is just that, a comment. We have tested for plenty of nephrotoxins and posted these results as well, so I suggest you take a look at again and look at ALL the results posted.”

Imagine my surprise when I went to Dogswell’s “Quality Assurance” page to see if they added any new test results (their assurance that they’ve tested for “plenty” of nephrotoxins, was an invitation I couldn’t resist. ) — they hadn’t — with the exception of one change, a notice at the top of the page, in bold, which read:

UPDATE: The post on “Poisoned Pets” and other blog sites identifying DOGSWELL treats as harmful is FALSE. We have tried contacting the author, Mollie Morrissette, to no avail. She has deleted our comments and refused to issue a retraction despite being shown test results proving the VITALITY Veggie Life treats contain no pesticides or contaminants. We ask you to call us directly if you have any concerns or questions about DOGSWELL products. We’re here until 5:30 PM PST Mon-Fri  888-559-8833.

Hey, Dogswell, thanks for the free publicity! You know what they say, “any publicity is good publicity”… With that in mind, I will answer your charges:

1.)  The report I refer to was not a “single comment” on Veterinary Information News network, but an entire discussion involving several vets who had seen dogs with symptoms similar to those seen with the toxic chicken jerky.  Would you like me to publish that discussion?

2.)  I did not identify “Dogswell treats as harmful”, what I did say was this:

…”veterinarians are reporting new cases of dogs developing symptoms of kidney failure (Fanconi’s syndrome) similar to dogs who have been poisoned by Chinese-made chicken jerky treats, but this time they are being poisoned with a whole new class of treats: sweet potato treats imported from China. The brands veterinarians say are associated with the new cases of unexplained acute kidney failure are…and Dogswell Veggie Life Vitality (4 types of Veggie Life brands)”.

3.)  I have never deleted comments from Dogswell.

4.)  Dogswell’s tests do not “prove” that Dogswell treats contain no pesticides or contaminants.

5.)  Finally, I have never been “shown test results proving” that Dogswell treats have been thoroughly tested.

5.)  While your invitation to call you directly is a grand gesture, I hesitate, especially when people use heavy-handed tactics with me. I prefer to have anything you say to me in writing.

I have a recommendation Dogswell, do not try this bullshit again, because not only does it makes you look really bad, but really, really stupid.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.