What The Kong Company Won't Tell You


This is not a post meant to bash the Kong Company.  I, personally, will never buy Kong products again because of my experience with this company.  I choose not to give them my hard earned money.  My hope is that this post will be useful for those of you with dogs and/or any of your friends or family members who have dogs.  I also hope to save you the vet bills that totaled months of mortgage payments for us.

Many people view Kong products as indestructible.  At one time they even labeled their products as such.  If you look at the packaging now, that verbiage is removed.  The reason I would suspect is because they are not in fact indestructible and, like so many other products, can be defective.

Like so many of you, we had quite a few of the Kong products around the house.  We would fill them with peanut butter when we wanted a few minutes of peace and quiet and hand them out to a very excited Oliver and Emerson.  Emerson, being as obsessed with food as he is, had figured out exactly how to get any food out of any toy.  Do you know those large plastic toys that are supposed to be "challenging" and give them "hours of play time" while they try to figure out how to get the food out?  I've purchased 4 different types of these toys over the past couple of years and Emerson gets them figured out in 3 minutes flat.  Poor Oliver is still pushing the toy around the house, annoyed that he can't get a single treat to fall out.  But I digress...

My dogs are not only dead set on removing food from toys, but they are also heavy chewers.  For this reason {and because I've always been worried about preventing them from chewing off a piece of toy} we would only give them their Kong toys a few times a month, always for a maximum of 15 minutes, and always in the same room we were in.  Additionally, I always inspected them at the end of the treat session, washed them, and replaced them if they were getting the slightest bit compromised.  A bit OCD?  Possibly, but I felt it necessary to try and protect them.

Clearly my efforts didn't work.

Sometime in July, as I took the Kong toys from each of them, I saw a gaping hole in the one Oliver had.  The entire top was missing.  It was a clean cut as though it was removed at the factory, not chewed off by a dog. We could not find it the missing piece.  What was even more perplexing was the fact that neither of us heard him swallow it and, for a 20 pound dog, this would have been quite the challenge!

the piece of Kong Oliver had swallowed
Well, long story short, it turns out he did swallow it.  Oliver got sick at the end of September.  We took him to the emergency vet when he woke up one morning and he could not stop vomiting.  They did x-rays, ran bloodwork and could not identify the problem.  It did not show up on the x-ray.  We had mentioned the missing Kong but were told that it should show up if in fact it was the problem.  The emergency room vet kept Oliver overnight and diagnosed him with having eaten something he shouldn't have.

We discharged him the next day.  Within 24 hours we had to bring him back to our vet for dehydration and pain.  He couldn't keep anything down.  This went on for over a week.  We finally got in to see a specialist who ran an ultrasound on him.  Nothing.  No problems at all.  He assured us that if Oliver had ingested something that was stuck in his stomach the ultrasound would find it.  He also diagnosed him with having eaten something he shouldn't have and sent him home.

That night he got worse.  At this point he was so skinny, in so much pain and so sick that I was a mess.  Let me interject here that, although I've said it many times before I feel the need to say it again.  We have the best Vet ANYWHERE.  We really do.  We are so fortunate that the staff at Milton Veterinary Hospital care for our little "babies" as though they are their own.  My vet got him in the next morning to run a barium test on him and lo and behold there it was......that stupid piece of Kong.  We all agreed that emergency surgery was needed and they went right to work.

Back to the emergency vet to spend the night for observation and then it was a long and sometimes painful recovery, but we made it.  During this time we reached out to the Kong Company.  The reason we reached out to them was because the piece that came off clearly was because the toy was defective, not because it was chewed off.  We thought they would stand behind their product.  We only asked for reimbursement of the surgery expenses which was a drop in the bucket compared to the other expenses.  I felt we could at least agree that the piece had to be surgically removed.

I was wrong.

The vet that the Kong Company contracted with to review our case concluded that it was my responsibility to have brought Oliver to our vet the next morning {after the piece went missing} and have her induce vomiting.  Induce vomiting on this huge piece of rubber!  When I questioned this judgement her response was that because it went down it would come back up.  The reality is this would likely have resulted in him dying as it was much to big to get back up without getting stuck.  Scary.  It really is amazing to me that she would have suggested this.

Her additional recommendations were also nonsense since we already followed them and I had put this in the information packet given to them:  the toy should be bigger than the dogs mouth {it was, however, the piece that fell of certainly was not} and, the toy should be inspected after every use.  Yup.  It was.

They felt a tiny bit of responsibility so they sent us a check for a small part of it.  I relayed my disappointment to them and they have chosen not to respond.

I guess the moral of the story is that there is not a product for dogs that is completely safe, unfortunately. I ask you, for the sake of your dog, don't leave them unattended with chew toys.  When you choose toys, you're choosing them at your own risk since at least this company will not stand behind toys used appropriately yet defective.  And, if you truly believe they've swallowed a piece of toy, it may not show up on the first x-ray so don't give up.

Oliver

21 comments:

Gardeningbren said...

I was very sad to read about Oliver and what he had to go through...not to mention mum!! We do have one kong but they don't hold any interest for the Chief except if there is food in them.

Then there are barbies to consider..(big grin)..their feet and hands chew off really easily..and so "Holly" of the Valley had much the same experience as Oliver. Little foot removed, after surgery.

Thank you for sharing this with us, your dog loving blog friends. Must follow your links now.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

What a good post! I'm so, so sorry about what happened to your boy, and I'm so glad he's okay!!!! But I think that this post may help someone else to not have the same thing happen. I've worried about this very thing with Kongs, and you've just confirmed that concern. We do give them to Todd, and your post is reminding me to rethink that.

Dee said...

Yikes! Those toys scare me! I don't know the entire story, but when we were at our specialty vet in December, having our dog's TTA repaired leg re-checked, the dog across from us was being released after surgery to remove a Kong part from his stomach/intestines. Scary stuff. I came home and got rid of the Kong I had in the bin. I hadn't seen any signs of it in our dogs, but they also hadn't ever used them.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Oh boy Bren....Barbies??? I have a hard time keeping cat toys away, but they've decided {thankfully} they're no fun anymore. Kim - it's so hard to know what to give your dog, isn't it? I'm glad you both found the post helpful.

Erin said...

I'm going to share this post on my Facebook page. I have oodles of animal loving friends that need to hear this.

Flat Creek Farm said...

So scary!! I am so thankful Oliver is better now. Kongs are used fairly often around here. Under supervision. But wow, Oliver's story really scares the heck out of me! Thanks for giving us "dog moms & dads" this info! -Tammy

daisy said...

Oh, I so feel for you. Your poor baby suffering so. What a shame that the company refused to do the right thing. So glad sweet Oliver is doing better now.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Dee - yes, I suspect it's much more common than we think. Thanks for sharing that! Erin - thank you! My hope is that this will help someone. :) Thanks Tammy and Daisy - his post-surgery self is slightly different than his pre-surgery self but, all-in-all, he's doing well.

Roslyn Phipps said...

While reading your Kong post I had a sense of deja vu. A friend of mine has a Pit Bull and he loved his Kong toys. Then one day Scooby got sick, would not eat, would not drink, but kept vomiting/dry heaving. After an emergency trip to the vet a piece of the toy was discovered lodged in his intestine. Surgery was performed and Scooby mended just fine. However, when his owners contacted the company like you in hopes that they would stand behind their product and help with surgical bills they were informed that they should keep a closer eye on their dog. I am glad that both dogs made it thru their surgery and trauma and I agree that something needs to be done to promote awareness of the danger of these toys.

Dianne @ Sweet Journey Home said...

Staci, I am so sorry little Oliver had to endure this and glad he is better now. Good for you sharing this to save other pet owners the heartache and pain you (and Oliver!) went through.

NanaNor's said...

Hi, I am your newest follower; thank you for posting this. Our Bichon has also been able to get a piece off one. This is such important info. Have a great weekend!
Noreen

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Roslyn - I'm so sorry to hear about your friends experience. It's so frustrating, isn't it? Thanks so much for sharing. Dianne and Noreen - thank you!

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

How scary and so glad he's ok. We don't use them anymore after our dog chewed one up, too pricey to be chewed up, that was 10 yrs. ago! lol

Mary@BarnBugStudio said...

So sorry for all your trouble and expense, but glad for the happy ending. I won't be purchasing Kong toys in future. I have a dog-loving aunt who sends me all the recall updates on pet products, and there are new ones every week. Scary. I am down to one brand of treats and Beaverdam real bones for chewing. Too bad Kong wouldn't take responsibility for their defective product. Hugs to Oliver and Emerson.

Anonymous said...

I know of a dog that went through what Oliver did. Many xrays and er visits showed nothing while the dog was literally on the brink of death. The owners were close to making the decision to euthanie their boy because of the pain he was clearly in but decided at the last minute to do exploratory surgery and found he chewed off a piecr of a kong.

I don't think they were reimbursed for the thousands they spent but the dog recovered and they learned that ONLY the BLACK kongs show up on xrays. Vets apparently only carry the black ones - something I have since noticed. Only one vet had a red one for sale and I have been checking for several years now.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Sue and Mary - thank you. Anonymous - I'm so happy they found it. I know what they were thinking....we were wondering if that was going to be the only option for us to choose as well because it was just awful to see him in such pain. Thanks so much for sharing the story.

Anonymous said...

So upsetting. I'm glad your little guy is ok now. I am going to throw out all our kongs immediately. Our puppy is also 20 pounds and a dedicated chewer and digger. She has dug/chewed numerous 6" diameter, 1" deep holes in our historic, wide board, wood floors, and we were using kongs to distract her. Any thoughts on how to entertain an incredibly destructive dog? Thanks! ~Gillian

andrea6479 said...

So sad to hear about your bad experiences! I now know to watch more carefully since I have never given that much thought. I have a 9 month old pitbull who is the best dog I have ever had. He does love his chew toys though. I have a XL. Red Kong bone that has been his favorite since he was strong enough to pick it up off the ground. He plays with it every day. His jaw is quite strong and he has chewed through every single 'indestructible' toy I have ever bought, except this one. I have never used the type shown in your photo and I now never plan to. Thank you so much for your story! I plan on keeping a closer eye on my pup and his favorite toy. Thanks again. I love your entire blog!

Kristina said...

My dog (who happens to be named Oliver as well) is going through the same. We got him a Kong puppy toy and bam. Top gone. Now he's vomiting, crying and generally in complete discomfort. I've never wanted to sue a company more.

Karen Lewis said...

I am going through a similar experience with my 10 lb 9 month old Havanese, Teddy. Last Thursday, I gave Teddy a stuffed Kong. I give him this treat several times a week. It takes him about 20 minutes to eat the contents then I take the toy away. Well last Thursday after he finished with the toy, I picked it up to put it away, and the entire top was missing. It was a red puppy Kong and the top was sheared off completely like it had been cut off. I frantically looked around the house trying to find the missing piece and could not find it. Teddy was bouncing around acting normally so I could not believe that the little guy had a big chunk of rubber in his stomach. Part of me truly felt that he had hidden the missing piece somewhere in the house because he was acting completely normal. I called the vet and they suggested I bring him in. Two hours later, X-rays at the vet's office showed the kong was in his stomach. The vet explained that the top piece of the Kong was intact (he had not chewed it into several pieces) and too large to pass through his stomach. The vet induced vomiting but Teddy did not expel the Kong. The following day, Teddy had to undergo surgery to remove the Kong from his stomach. This is so upsetting. Kong toys are often referred to as 'indestructible'. Teddy is a 10 lb dog and not a heavy chewer. The toy was defective. This should not have happened and I will never use another one again.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Karen - I'm so sorry you had to experience this as well. It is remarkably similar to our experience. It's too bad they are able to continue selling these toys with all of the issues with them being defective. Hoping little Teddy is doing well!!