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Weigh In! Should Retailers Be Responsible if the Food/Treats they Sell Are Making Dogs Sick?

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We’ve all got a favorite grocery store, the one that we trust to carry safe, healthy, fresh food to feed our families. We buy with confidence that item plucked from the shelf or produce stand will be safe to feed, that our grocer has sourced from the very best suppliers and avoided those with a known history of recalls, complaints, and customer concerns.

If our favorite grocery store repeatedly sold foods that were known to be dangerous we’d probably shop elsewhere. We’d hold them accountable.

So, since dogs are family, shouldn’t we be require that same accountability from pet food and treat retailers?

Retailers are a vital link between pet food manufacturers and consumers. Having a product on the shelf in our favorite store, a store we trust, gives that product credibility.

If the store I trust sells it, it must be safe.

However, this isn’t always the case. Despite hundreds of dog deaths, FDA warnings, and consumer complaints, chicken jerky treats, even those imported from China, are still big sellers at major retail stores.

Despite ongoing lawsuits that question the safety of a popular dog food, one that has allegedly claimed the life of thousands of dogs, Purina’s Beneful still lines store shelves.

Despite 5 years of complaints, multiple reports of dog death and illness, repeated warnings from the FDA and the Better Business Bureau, Walmart stores continue to sell the “Real Ham Bone” dog treat to consumers that trust that they’re buying a safe product.

Let’s discuss!

At what point do we, as consumers and dog parents, hold retailers accountable for what they’re selling? Should retailers that continue to sell dog food and treats that are known to be dangerous be held responsible? Would you stop shopping at a favorite store if they refused to stop selling a dangerous dog food or treat – even if you aren’t buying it, but other pet parents are?

Weigh in with a comment below.

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  1. Avatar Of Greg



    Bought a Stoneridge smoked ham bone dog treat at woodmans. Dog chewed a small portion and became very ill. Vomiting, diarrea etc. Pieces of bone in both of the aforementioned. Vet visit for enema and drugs etc. was $175. Vet said this is one of the worst items you can give a dog. They break teeth and tear up the digestive tract etc. This item can kill your dog! Grocery store claims to
    have no responsibility as they just sell it! Manufacturer has not responded except to remove my comments from yelp. Manufacturer pretended to be surprised by dogs reaction despite many on line
    comments from users having same reaction.

  2. Avatar Of Pat Sirenski

    Pat Sirenski


    I agree with most everyone that posted. When those chicken jerky treats were recalled a few months ago I copied the e-mail and showed it to both pet retail stores I deal with locally. They thanked me and said they would check into it. 2 weeks later I noticed the product was no longer on the shelves. I also will not do business with a store that knowingly sells bad products for our beloved animal kids. After my last cocker passed from Pancreatic cancer, that could have been caused by a certain preservative in decent brand food, I did a lot of research. I decided to spend much more for a high quality food, BLUE, not easy on limited income, but my babies are worth it.

  3. Avatar Of Kathy Merker

    Kathy Merker


    I don’t think it would be fair to hold a retailer responsible for selling tainted pet products, unless it is their stores brand. However, if they continued to sell that brand and pets became ill again, then they would be responsible. I would not continue to shop at any store that knowingly sold products which have caused any pets to become ill or die. It would just be showing me that they are only interested in their bottom line and could care less about their customers or their families, including their pets.
    Thank you for the info on Walmart selling products that have proven harmful. Though it may be hard to find a store that doesn’t sell Beneful.

  4. I most certainly believe that retailers should be held accountable if they sell bad product. But what decides “bad product”? Purina Beneful has been sickening and killing dogs for years, and no recall have happened.

  5. Once a product has been named as a potentially harmful one the retsiler is harmful. The problem is who makes that determination?
    As responsible owners with access to the internet we must practice cautio with what we feed them as if we fed our human kids. When the product is not bought it will be taken out of the line up. Also we need to tell the retailer our concerns. If enuf people complain they will remove the product.

  6. Avatar Of Joanne



    any retailer who sells food that is deadly to animals should be held accountable and should have to pay for all medical bills incurred as a result.
    I myself refuse to buy any commercial dog food for my pets. I make all my own homemade dog treats and I only buy good quality food for my pets. It costs quite a bit more but in reality you get what you pay for. My pets are worth it.
    I have done a lot of research on various pet foods and there are many brands I would not feed to any animals.
    Shame on those who have no conscience that make and sell these foods.
    I have three dogs and two cats and I’m proud to say my lab is now 17 years old and still doing well.
    I will never buy pet food in Walmart.

  7. Only if they know it’s harmful. Retailers, like us, have to have some belief that manufacturers will act ethically and do no harm.

  8. Avatar Of Evelyn Bacskay

    Evelyn Bacskay


    Yes ,the stores need to be responsible for the products they carry. Recalled products need to be pulled from the shelves . When the chicken jerky from China was killing animals,Petsmart marked them down for clearance and kept selling them!! Whenever i see people buying recalled or unhealthy food i tell them,but 99% buy it anyway,the public needs to be more educated on what is in the pet food they buy. Stop buying from China and any store that carries recalled products.

  9. Avatar Of Chache



    Absolutely, I was in Pet Supermarket the other day, and found out that some treats distributed by Arm and Hammer were from China . Everyone knows that dogs have died eating treats from China. How could Pet Supermarket in all good concience sell anything from China?? I will no longer
    purchase anything from them not even bathing supplies.
    I am telling all my friends as well. Does anyone know how our American Companies distribute items from China? Why would they want to?? Now I will no longer purchase anything from Arm and Hammer and I was buying all my Laundry products and Carpet powder from them ..
    My dog is my child … Chache

  10. Avatar Of Trish



    In two weeks my pet supply store opens. As a soon to be retailer, I am very concerned about the safety of the items I sell. Here is my take on this. If an item has a recall, it will be removed from my shelves. I will not sell brands known to have dangerous or ify products. I have done much research to know if the products I sell are 100% made in the USA. I refuse to sell a food product that has any part of it from another country. Should a retailer that knowingly sells dangerous products be held accountable… Yes! As a consumer you have to be diligent as well. New recalls often take time to get circulated. If the consumer sees a recalled item on store shelves, alert the store. I would appreciate it if my customers did.

    • Congratulations on your new store! Sounds like a place I’d love to shop.

      The local independent pet store where I buy everything my dogs need is similar to your store. Even when a product isn’t recalled, if there are known issues or concerns, the owners pull it from shelves. I may pay a little more to shop there, but I know that what I’m buying has been thoughtfully placed on their shelf, with my dogs’ health and safety in mind. (So… where’s your store located and what’s it called? I hope it’s near me! 😉 )

  11. Avatar Of Jeanette



    I think the retailers should be liable. The reason for that is when I had worked as a pet consultant I knew about recalls on food and some of the stores did not pull them off the shelves they still sold them. The other reason is because they push the pet food because the bigger pet companies pay them for most of the shelving and they have agreements with them.

    So if you have other consultants with other foods in the same store they will stick to the bigger companies and don’t allow you to approach customers as the bigger pet food company consultants can. So yes they should be sued and liable if pets also die.

  12. Avatar Of Sindy Smith

    Sindy Smith



  13. Avatar Of Christy M

    Christy M


    Without question. Is a restaurant responsible for the food it serves? Nevermind that Purina way back when was a respected dog food brand and now is killing animals. Families have been paid to keep quiet, settle out of court. I am absolutely appalled. The cute commercials aimed at consumers who don’t know better and now employees forced to swear they stand behind the product, seriously? C’mon big box stores, step up to the plate of responsibility and pull it off the shelves. Don’t make us lobby for YEARS like we had to with treats from China. Don’t let 10,000 dogs die before someone realizes that our furry family members mean more than saving a few dollars.

  14. Avatar Of Sonya Surprise

    Sonya Surprise


    Absolutely the store/retailers should be responsible for selling these toxic foods and treats to our animals. It’s not only dog food and treats they do the same with people food. I’ve seen cereal that’s been recalled marked down at the store and I’m sure a lot of people think it’s a bargain and have no idea it’s been recalled. I’ll never buy anything with purina’s name on it they can’t be trusted now.

  15. Avatar Of Irene Sysak

    Irene Sysak


    Yes retailers should definitely be held accountable! They should be aware which products are safe & unsafe and should only sell safe products for pets!!! That’s being responsible to their customers and not all customers are able to do their own research or read ingredient labels before buying!!!

  16. Avatar Of Linda Petersen

    Linda Petersen


    If a product is suspected of being toxic, it should be removed from shelves immediately, just as products for human consumption are pulled. If a retailer fails to pull a product that is suspect, the retailer should then be liable.

  17. Avatar Of Carol Melton Carol Melton says:

    Yes cause they should be told of all the recalls on dog food, treats, bones. If they choose to keep selling them knowing they are then darn right they should be held accountable.

  18. Avatar Of Kathy Pippig

    Kathy Pippig


    Yes, plain and simple. They should also be held accountable for paying any medical bills incurred by a dog that has been made ill or has expired as a result of eating/using products that should have been pulled from the shelves as soon as it was discovered they were hazardous to dogs.

  19. Avatar Of Robert Brown robert brown says:

    i feed all of my pets commerical pet foods. i have a 19 yr.old senior cat & i have a 7 yr. old cat & i haa 13 yr.old senior dof a 6 yr.old dog & a 2 yr. old dog & i also give them commerical pet treats. & they have never had any medical or any other promblems. they are very healthy.

  20. Avatar Of Robert Brown robert brown says:

    i feed all of my pets commerical pet food. i have a 19 yr. old senior cat i also have a 7 yr. old cat & i have a 13 yr. old senior dof my other dog is 6 yrs, old & i have a 2 yr, dog, & also by commerical dog treats for my dogs. they have never ever had any medical or any other promblems with their food & trats. they are in perfect health.

  21. Avatar Of Robert Brown

    robert brown


    i have always bought commerical dog & cat food for my pets, my senior cat is 19 yrs.olds & i have another cat 7 yrs. old. my senior dof is 13 yrs, old my other dog is 6 yrs. old. & my other dog is 2 yrs, old, & not one of them has ever ever had any medical promblems with their food & also no other promblems on their commerical pet foods. the same thing with their commerical dog treats also no promblems either.

  22. Avatar Of Betty Gillmore

    Betty Gillmore


    I do believe they should be held accountable, especially after so many dogs become sick and or die from some of these treats. Is money more to them than pets’ health?I would think that, being a pet store they would care to have the best products to sell for their clients to keep them coming back instead of possible killing their clients.

  23. Avatar Of Trisherbee



    YES….If they are made aware of the dangers and risks….yes…..that’s just blatant disregard about the lives of others for money.

  24. Avatar Of Anne



    Yes, absolutely, they should be held accountable. If the information has been confirmed, there is no way they should be unaware of it. That is their job, after all. If they have been repeatedly asked to remove the products and don’t, that is even more appalling. I don’t understand why they would want to risk their reputation, animal lives, or the possibility of lawsuits.

  25. Avatar Of Tina Marie

    Tina Marie


    If they know the product is bad then they ABSOLUTELY should be responsible and remove product from shelves!!!

  26. Avatar Of Donna Hein Donna Hein says:

    Money rules!! Not too long ago when the Milo’s Kitchen treats were on recall (and various others) I was standing in Pet—- discussing the recalls with two store employees–I asked them why the product (s) were still on the shelves. One looked dumbfounded the other just said profits and contracts with the manufacturers of the the products.
    It’s all about MONEY!! We as pet parents need to give the retailers a message YOU WON’T get my MONEY if you are irresponsible and sell the junk!! And of course there are (my self included to some extent) who can afford the HIGH DOLLAR pet food. But the High Dollar stuff isn’t always that good either is is!?? Wasn’t Blue Buffalo just charged with false advertising it’s all natural food???

  27. Avatar Of Sharon Sharon says:

    Retailers are informed if certain foods are contaminated, so it’s their responsibility to remove them from the shelves. Retailers are only the middle man, and should only be responsible if the foods are not removed from their shelves and people are still allowe3d to purchase them.

  28. Avatar Of Deanna



    The should be held accountable if they are aware of the problem.

  29. Avatar Of Ann Cluck

    Ann Cluck


    No. Why? If the store is not aware of the dangers of or recall of a product, they cannot be held accountable. Of course, common sense has to enter the picture. Products from China are a instant no.

  30. Avatar Of Clint



    Mollie’s comment was well written and addressed the point.

    I think the retailers should ONLY be accountable if they continue to sell a product after they’ve been notified of a problem (recall) with that product. Other than that, they should not be accountable.

  31. Avatar Of Colleen Hard

    Colleen Hard


    I think the retailer should be responsible for certain things like the bones that splinter etc. But in regards to beneful (I do not use this) there is no lawsuit and it is still being made. The consumer should be more aware and read up on what they are giving to their animals. If the product
    does not sell it will go away.

  32. Avatar Of Carol



    I do think they should be held accountable. To me, it shows they don’t care about the animals, only their bottom line. If it weren’t for our animals, would they have a business? It makes me sick that all this stuff stays on the market after being proven poisonous to our pets. Just yesterday I saw a bag of Beneful in another shopper’s cart. I commented to my husband that with all that’s been in the media lately about that garbage, people still buy it? I just don’t understand. People must just be stupid. If they were held accountable, maybe things would change, even just a little.

  33. Absolutely pets are family they should be given the same protection as to family foods,
    sometimes I wonder if any protection at all is in place I don’t trust esp products made in China
    but they don’t always label that… now do they … this FDA needs to get a lot tougher on protecting the
    American Consumer

  34. Avatar Of Judy



    I absolutely think the retailers should also be held responsible, especially after it’s been brought to their attention. If they continue to sell the product, they should be held accountable. I am a fanatic label reader. I make sure whatever we purchase to feed our dogs is US sourced and US produced. I want nothing from China. It may cost more, but I am certain that by feeding them quality foods and treats, it saves in terms of their health. I won’t eat junk, so why should they?

    • Even reading the labels you can’t be 100% sure that all the ingredients are made in America! There’s very few companies out there today who don’t get some ingredients from overseas! All they care about is profit. Cripe even the chickens that we humans are eating are sent 14,000 miles to China now to be slaughtered, hence the feces in our chicken now! I warn people all the time about pet foods that are on the recall list whenever I shop, the biggest offender is WalMart! They could care less! So sorry to break the news but we really Never know where all the ingredients really originate from because they don’t have to tell. Even if it say’s made in America, that doesn’t mean it all comes from America!

  35. Avatar Of Deb Cooper

    Deb Cooper


    I continue to be disgusted by seeing this food in my local grocery store– HOWEVER, I am EVEN MORE DISGUSTED by the new commercials that Beneful has launched recently– with workers at Beneful plants touting the virtues of this food. WHY SHOULD WE BELIEVE THEM WHEN THEIR JOBS ARE AT STAKE???? It is really repulsive and I think the FCC should prosecute the makers of Beneful for FALSE ADVERTISING. My dogs will NEVER eat junk food. If you wish to check out your dog food, try visiting the Dog Food Advisor on the Web. It’s a real eye opener for anyone who cares at all about their best friends.

  36. Avatar Of Tami Tami says:

    I cringe every time I see someone with a bag of junk dog food in their cart. I’ve even told someone at the register that he shouldn’t buy it and why!! It’s ALL about Money! Ever since the Purina Lawsuit, I have seen multiple stores (Pet Smart, Walmart, etc) putting it on Sale to entice people to buy it. Sickening! I have spoken to a few customers who said that they had a problem with a certain treat or food that they bought from a store. Most of the stores they complained to said they weren’t going to do anything about it. However, I understand that one of the complaints was at Costco and they pulled the item. Good for them!

  37. Avatar Of Boyhous Boyhous says:

    When a store continues to sell a product that is known to cause any type of problem..it simply means that merchant doesnt care. If they cared, then the product would be pulled from their shelves. It all boils down to one thing: money.

  38. I think the question should be: is the retailer liable? In this case, the answer is no.

    Legally, they are not liable for selling a product that has not been the subject of a recall. To expand the answer, there is no liability for a store that sells any product which could be misused (which, by definition, would include all bones – aside from raw – in my opinion). In this case, the misuse occurs when it is fed to a dog and left unsupervised for even a minute.

    Unfortunately, many consumers mistakenly believe simply because it is for sale it is safe. And many who have written me did not even see or read the warning. The manufacturer has said for years he (Dynamic’s owner) intends to make the warnings more prominent, but has failed to do so.

    Dangerous as those products are (and personally, I think all of them should be removed from the market, not just Dynamic’s Ham Bones), the liability lies with the owner who has been cautioned about their use. That is a release of liability – once a consumer has been warned (as in the case with Ham Bones warning on the label), the retailer and the manufacturer assume no responsibility. Since this really is a case of legality, not moral responsibility – the answer, sadly, is no.

    Retailers cannot be held responsible. If this were a moral or ethical argument, then the retailer should feel obligated to remove the product “out of an abundance of caution.”

    But, considering how pets are valued in the legal system (as property) they know that little can hurt them financially, so it stays on the market. Now, if it were an infant formula, the retailers wouldn’t wait for test results or legal pressure to make them act (as it happened with an infant formula suspected of poisoning a child that was sold at Walmart: the product was removed within 24 hours).

    Hopefully, all the media attention will pressure the manufacturers to take action, and if nothing else it will serve as a warning to consumers. Unfortunately, most consumers are not aware of any problems until something tragic happens to their dog and then they do a Google search.

    Keep up the good work!

  39. Avatar Of Brenda Lee Brenda Lee says:

    When I go into my local grocery store or other stores and I see Beneful on the shelves, it angers me so much. That food has been proven to kill dogs and these places are still marketing it so YES, I feel it is the responsibility of the store to make sure that all food, not just dog or cat is safe for it’s customers.

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