The maker of the chew sticks, Loving Pets, and BarkBox have said they will investigate to see if the treats caused the death of a dog named Sugar.

By Austin Cannon
Updated June 02, 2021
Advertisement

Dog subscription-box service BarkBox has halted shipments of a duck-flavored chew stick after a woman attributed the death of her dog to the treat. Loving Pets, the maker of the sticks, has also stopped distributing the product. 

Both companies have said they'll investigate the product while it's removed from circulation, and BarkBox's team of veterinarians is working with the vet of the dog, Sugar, to determine whether the duck chew played a role in her death. 

Sugar's owner, a woman named Sarah, wrote on Facebook that her dog died about 24 hours after eating the Duck Lucky Chew Stick that was included in her Super Chewer BarkBox delivery. Sarah said Sugar ate the stick around 9 p.m. Sunday and started vomiting in the early morning hours of Monday. Sugar died at the veterinarian's office that evening. 

Sarah said Sugar hadn't eaten anything else out of the ordinary around that time. She urged fellow dog owners to avoid Loving Pets products. 

"This is so wrong and I am so angry," she wrote. "She didn't deserve to suffer the way that she did, she had so much more life left to live."  

The duck-flavored chews are not available to buy at stores. They were exclusively available through BarkBox, Loving Pets wrote on Facebook. The company added that it will conduct its own quality testing on the chews while it also sends samples to a third-party laboratory. 

beagle chewing on a bone
Credit: Christian Buch / Getty

In its original response last week, Loving Pets called Sugar's story an "unfounded accusation" and said it was the first time it had ever heard "of any issues regarding our products." The company then seemed to offer a different explanation for Sugar's death, mentioning how dogs will sometimes consume things outside their regular diet that are hazardous to their health.  

(The initial response inspired backlash, and Loving Pets followed up with a post sharing condolence for Sugar and said, "Any element of our original response that seemed uncaring or disingenuous is a product of the shock that we felt.") 

"Loving Pets has been committed to the loving care of pets for nearly 20 years. It is our most important commitment. Our products each go through rigorous testing to the highest standards before ever reaching the bowls of the pets we serve. We don't take the loss of a friend lightly and grieve," the company said in a statement provided to Daily Paws.

"We hope to understand what happened so that if the issue was with our product, it cannot effect any other loved one," Loving Pets said.

BarkBox struck a similar tone Friday, saying it would work on its "urgent investigation with our testing labs, the vendor, our veterinary team, Sarah and her vet" and share any results with the public. 

"We'd never send anything we wouldn't share with our own pups, so we're handling the situation with the gravity, urgency, and care that it deserves," Hernan Giraldo, BarkBox's vice president of customer experience operations, said in an email to customers. 

Dog owners who use BarkBox and want a replacement for the duck chews can contact its customer service team. Loving Pets added that anyone with concerns can email health@lovingpetsproducts.com or visit its health and wellness page.