Hartz Denta shield rawhide bones killed our 4 year old Shih Tzu Maddie

My husband had to have open heart surgery the 26th Of November 2012. We are from Glade spring Va and his surgery was in Asheville NC. My brother and his wife took care of our dogs while we were gone. I was on my way home on the 30th of November to stay at home for the weekend while my husbands daughter was spending the weekend in Asheville. My sister in law sent me a picture of my dogs earlier in the day and Maddie was the center of them. About 20 minutes before I picked them up Maddie got a rawhide treat and immediately fell dead in my brother and sister in laws kitchen. I was about 3 minutes away from their house I called to say I would be there in a few. My sister in law screamed and said don’t come home Maddies dead. I felt like my heart would stop. She was born in our home and I have her mother and her grandparents on her mothers side. Maddie was my husbands baby and he had just had open heart surgery and gottern out of surgical ICU just that afternoon I went in their house and they had Maddie laid out on a towel in a chair.I picked up her lifeless body and sat down and all I could do was rock her and cry how am I going to tell Roger.I brought her home and my other dogs and made that call to my husband. He just couldn’t understand why . I called my vet on the 1st of December and asked him to perform an autopsy on her to see the cause of death. He had me bring her to his office that Saturday morning so they could preserve her until Monday. He did the autopsy on Monday and called me and said she had choked to death on a raw hide bone.All her organs were fine. He found the bone still in her prescious little throat. He said no one could have helped her it was so deep in her throat. On the bag of the rawhides stated it was for small dogs up to 20 pounds. Maddie weighed 5 pounds. I had anothe Shih Tzu that weighed 18 pounds. How can something be safe for her little body and for the 18 pound one the  same.I contacted Hartz and they had me to send in the bag along with a statement from me and from my vet saying how she died and her medical history which was perfect. She had never been sick.I did research on the internet trying to find one as small as she was and I didn’t find anything under $2500.00 up to $5000.00. All I asked for was for them to pay for another small Shih Tzu to present my husband with. I knew it could never replace maddie but I thought it may offer a little comfort. I sent documentation of pictures showing him on life support after the surgery and many pictures of her on his lap and shoulders. And the final picture was of me holding her lifeless body before I burried her. They said it would take 4-6 weeks to investigate. During that 7 weeks it took them they had pulled off all the denta shield rawhide treats that had the up to 20 pounds on them from our area and changed the bag to just say small dogs. On the back of the new package it reads As with all chewing products supervise your dog while chewing. She was being supervised but my vet said NO ONE COULD HAVE HELPED MADDIE. Then they went on to say in their letter to us they were sorry for our loss but had deermined Hartz wasn’t responsible and it is almost impossible for a dog of any size to choke to death on them. Hartz is a very wicked company. They know their product killed our dog. My husband and I are going to open up a class action lawsuit. Anyone out their if they lose a pet that isn’t old or sick I would highly reccomend an autopsy. We have the documentation from our vet and we have the bone he gave us that he took from her throat. It’s time these big company answer to what they have done to our pets. I’m sure as all of you pet owners you feel the same way . They are our children.

12 Replies to “Hartz Denta shield rawhide bones killed our 4 year old Shih Tzu Maddie”

  1. I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your dog, Maddie.

    The same thing almost happened to our dog 30 years ago. She chewed off the knotted end of a rawhide bone and it got stuck in her throat. Somehow we got it out, but it was a close call.

    Instead of pursuing a class action lawsuit, you may want to consider filing a case against Hartz in small claims court.

    Here is an article about a Texas pet owner who took Hartz to small claim court a few years ago and won:


    Scroll down to article titled:

    “Texas Bulldog Owner Wins Verdict Against Hartz Mountain Pet Products”

    and click “More”

  2. Here’s some additional info on the above mentioned lawsuit:




    Small claims court is the best way to seek compensation for damages caused by defective products — especially if your state allows you to request a trial by jury.

  3. I am so sorry about your loss of Maddie. I also have a Shih Tzu (Molly) and love her to death. I got her from a puppy mill and because I had given a kitten that found her way into my back yard the Hartz Flea drops (strictly for financial reasons) Molly never had Hartz but One of her sisters did. I found this kitten someone dumped in my yard. Tiny but beautiful thing. I used the Hartz flea drops on her and that night her eyes started to roll and she started to twitch. I stayed up with her wrapped in a towel all night and first thing in the morning I took her to the vets. The vet told me that it was the flea medication that caused it and gave her medication and kept her all night. My vet was so concerned that she stayed with Casey (my cat) all night. I fully expected her to pass away but someone was looking after us and she lived. I wouldn’t wish what I went thru that night on anyone. I have contacted Hartz Canada and they want all the information on this. I am in the process of getting all the things together but don’t really think anything will happen.

  4. I am very sorry for your loss! I was expecting to read that this was another case of poisoning, and was surprised that it is a case of choking. The dog could have choked on any toy or treat I don’t see where it has anything to do with the hartz product(except unfortunetly that was the item the dog chose to swallow) some dogs don’t chew things well and just try to swallow them, in which case you should carefully monitor your dog and not give them treats that may cause a problem. I don’t think Hartz is responsible for your loss, lay the blame where it should be….on the dog or the people who gave them the treat. Hartz did not shove the treat down your dogs throat, they merely sell treats for “dogs under 20 lbs” if your dog is too small to eat it, YOU are responsible for judging that, not them!!!

  5. Its very painful to lose a pet. We had a shepherd pup that swallowed a popsicle stick and had to have surgery. He recovered even after ripping his stiches out and swallowed another one he found on the ground and of course another surgery. He never swallowed another one, but the fact is pets die from swallowing all kinds of stuff they shouldn’t. People find comfort when they feel they can blame someone for a death, no matter if they truly caused a death or not. Some people apply flea treatment to animals under 1 year of age, some people give babies honey and sometimes humans die from stupidity and sometimes pets die also and its no fault of Hartz the warnings were there sometimes and common sense is sometimes necessary. To many people posting their hopes and dreams on a lawsuit, things happen people and we are all judged on how we live this life and face our daily problems and suing people isn’t the answer to our happiness. A lot of good company out of business because a bunch of idiots decided a payday meant the world to them. What anyone does in their lives eventually effects all of us. Use your heads people, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

  6. I agree with Lee in that Hartz did not force your dog to eat the bone. Your issue should be with the persons who GAVE the item to your pet, not the company that offered it for sale. Put the blame where it belongs. Sorry for the loss of your pet, but let’s be fair here.

  7. Lee Francis, Unfortunate Common Sense, and Nancy H, your posts are complete nonsense. You’re all basically suggesting that companies have no responsibilities whatsoever. The fact that a company does not force consumers to use a product does NOT in and of itself absolve a company of all responsibility and liability. How ridiculous. If that were the case, companies could sell products without having to concern themselves with how safe they are or are not. Companies cannot recklessly put products on the market that are inherently unsafe. When a product is being used as directed (i.e. – is not being abused or used abnormally by the consumer), yet still causes injury or death, it CAN be argued that the product is inherently unsafe and the company CAN rightfully be held liable.

    Nothing Helen has said suggests that anyone used the product improperly. The dog was simply given a bone to consume. The owner didn’t dip the bone in cyanide or otherwise alter it and then blame Hartz for her dog’s death, nor did she give the bones to a dog that Hartz warned her not to give it to. In fact, the bones are marketed as being appropriate for dogs UP TO 20 lbs (not OVER 20 lbs), so the people who gave the 5-lb dog the product did absolutely NOTHING wrong. The fact of the matter is, when the end of the bone is large enough to become lodged so deeply in a 5-lb Shih Tzu’s throat that the dog is beyond help, they are NOT appropriate for the breeds of dog Hartz claims they are. THAT is what makes Hart liable. The knots on the end of the bone should be small enough that if a dog swallows them whole – which is very reasonable expectation considering they are MADE to detach from the main part of the bone – they pass without incident.

    Helen, I’m so sorry for your loss. This is certainly a case for small claims court. Using the evidence you have (the bone and the autopsy report from the vet), you should have no trouble getting a judgment in your favor for the cost of the dog.

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