The nice folks at Dogswell asked us if we’d be interested in reviewing their jerky bars and jerky strips. Naturally we agreed and the attractive brightly packaged arrived.

Our 5 year old Golden, Zowie, clearly knew something was up when we opened the package. He was ecstatic to be asked for his help with this review. After several carefully considered moments the verdict was in… He loves these treats, in particular he seemed very fond of the Salmon & Veggies Jerky bars. After a few days we noticed he wasa doing the Golden nudging/herding thing more and more to try and get us over closer to the treat box. He has shown a clear preference for these treats over our usual Costco brand dog cookies. But then again, he’s also likely to be more interested in the fresh road-kill or some disgustingly smelly unidentified lump found on the sidewalk. That’s why we need some human input in deciding what’s the better choice for our pup.

I’m very happy to have found a brand that is dog-tasty but is also heathy. I’m impressed that the Dogswell treats are made in the USA, uses cage free chicken and ducks and antibiotic free lamb. That they don’t use allergy provoking fillers like corn, wheat and soy and they do use higher quality fruits and vegetables. Dogswell claims that there treats are natural and wholesome – just as if you made them yourself – and in the sample box they sent us – even came with an apron, spatula and wooden meat tenderizer mallet in case we’d like to make our own home-made treats. Despite how much we love our dog he’s sadly going to have a long wait before we get to this project – so store-bought treats rule the day in our house.

Not sure I’d completely believe that the added Chondroitin and glucosamine in these treats would make that much difference in our dog’s joint health – especially since we would only give one or two treats a day of the jerky. If we were serious about prevention we’d likely use the pill form once there was a sign of trouble. I’m not sure about dogs but I know that in humans there hasn’t yet been conclusive scientific studies that prove that Chondroitin and Glucosamine usage prevents osteoarthritis. Still, it can’t hurt and if there is the chance of it helping your dog – why not use it. There aren’t any alternatives for prevention of joint problems as fas as I know.

A bigger concern we had was that these treats might use chicken or other meat imported from China where there have been many reports of tainted food with

In a March 2012 Hartford Courant article

“Dog owners and veterinarians have complained for years about chicken jerky dog treats, saying that they cause kidney problems and even death in dogs, but whether the canine snack is harmful remains a mystery.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administrationhas issued cautionary statements about chicken jerky, which is made by more than a dozen different companies, at several points in the past 4.5 years. Last November, the FDA said chicken jerky products — sometimes marketed as chicken tenders, strips or treats — “may be associated with illness in dogs.” Last year, the FDA had received 70 reports of ill dogs, possibly related to chicken jerky, up until its Nov. 18 advisory. The agency has received more than 530 reports since the November advisory — in less than four months.”

Dogswell says on their website that none of their products have been implicated in the FDA recall related to Chicken jerky and DOGSWELL fully supports the FDA’s actions… they go on to say that “High protein treats (like chicken jerky) should be used in moderation. DOGSWELL strongly advises you adhere to and not exceed the feeding instructions on the back of our DOGSWELL treats.”

I am confused a little about how they say that their treats are made in the USA but then also say on their website that … “China is a country where dark meat is more popular due to its inherent fat and flavor. DOGSWELL believes it is less wasteful to obtain our white meat in China where it is abundant, rather than sourcing it domestically, where white meat is less available and held at a premium. Not only do we care about your pet’s health by sourcing only the healthiest meat available, we also practice sustainability by reducing as much waste as possible.”

Perhaps they only recently discontinued using chicken from China and haven’t yet changed their website information.

Naturally, with this information we are cautious about using any chicken product coming out of China – actually, we’re afraid of any food product coming out of China. I’ve lost all confidence and trust that the Chinese government or industries will inspect and regulate with honesty and integrity. I admit this is based more on emotion than science – I’m sure there are many companies, like Dogswell, whose products are perfectly safe however I’d rather play it safe and only buy made in USA food products whether it is for animal or human consumption. Besides, why ship something for my dog all the way from China the fuel used in shipping isn’t helping the planet any and keeping jobs in the USA whenever possible is a good thing in my book. I don’t care if its a little more expensive what I do care about is that I’m not going to give my dog something that might put him at risk.

But in any event the Jerky Bars that we tried out clearly seemed to be quality products that our dog loved. We will be getting them on our own after this but will be likely to stay away from buying any chicken jerky from any brand that isn’t made in the US.

Thanks Dogswell!

Disclaimer: We were sent some free dog treats but only under the condition that we would review the product honestly and accurately.