ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing concerns that a Missouri-produced pet treat has caused serious illness or death in dogs, a spokesman said Thursday.
The FDA is looking into complaints about Real Ham Bone For Dogs, sold throughout the U.S., an agency spokesman said. If warranted, he said, it will take appropriate action and notify the public.
"We take very seriously any potential harm to pets from products regulated under the federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and encourage consumers to report their concerns to the FDA," the agency said in a statement.
The product -- a smoked pig femur sold as a dog treat or chew bone -- is distributed under the Dynamic Pet Products label of Frick's Quality Meats in Washington, Mo.
"For 20 years or so we've been throwing these bones away," company president Dave Frick told the Washington Missourian newspaper in February 2003. "Then somewhere along the way we realized they could sell, and we started packaging them."
The company said Thursday in a statement that it was saddened to learn of the illnesses and deaths of customers' pets, and that quality and safety remain priorities.
"That is why every package contains a label that provides detailed instructions to owners on how they can help their pets best enjoy our products," the statement said. "We strongly encourage owners to supervise their pets with any treats or snacks."
It also told the Better Business Bureau of St. Louis that the product has generated far more positive than negative consumer response.
The bureau, which has fielded consumer complaints about the Real Ham Bone from throughout the U.S., said Thursday that concerns arose after the bones splintered, then ulcerated or obstructed the dogs' intestines. Consumers reported their dogs had become lethargic or were vomiting. One man came home to find his dog dead, bleeding from the mouth.
Some dogs had to have bone fragments removed surgically, the bureau said, and consumers reported that the company refused to pay resulting veterinary bills when asked.
A Richardson, Texas, woman said the company paid for a new dog after her bull terrier died after eating a bone, according to the BBB.
A warning on the Real Ham Bone package says the pet should be supervised while it consumes the bone, and that the bone should be removed if fragments break off. But consumers told the BBB they hadn't noticed the warning.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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The BBB said the bones can break into slivers in the dogs' digestive tracts, causing obstructions and perforations.