Fact Check

Pimple Ball Dog Toy Warning

Four Paws withdrew a 'pimple ball' toy from the market following reports of injuries to dogs?

Published Aug. 27, 2008


Claim:   Four Paws withdrew a "pimple ball" dog toy from the market following reports of injuries to dogs.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2008]

On Sunday, June 22, 2008 my 10-year old lab mix, Chai, sustained a severe injury from a product that the company Four Paws Inc, produces. The toy I'm referencing is the pimple ball with bell. (Item #20227-001, UPC Code 0 4566320227 9)

While chewing on the toy, a vacuum was created and it effectively sucked his tongue into the hole in the ball. From speaking with my vet, this likely occurred because there is not a second hole in the ball preventing the vacuum effect from happening. I became aware of this when Chai approached a friend at my home whimpering with the ball in his mouth. She tried unsuccessfully to remove the ball but the tongue had swollen and could not be released.

Chai was taken to the Animal Medical Center (an emergency care facility in New York City) and was treated by Dr. Nicole Spurlock to have the ball removed. Because the size of the opening on the ball was so small, all circulation to his tongue was cut off. The doctors had to sedate him in
order to remove it. Once the ball was removed, his tongue swelled to the point that he could no longer put it in his mouth. Chai was sent home with care instructions and to be observed overnight for any changes.

By the following morning Chai's tongue had swollen even more.

He was taken to his regular vet, Dr. Timnah Lee, for treatment. He was admitted and kept sedated for a period of three days during which time they were treating his wounds and waiting to determine how much of his tongue could be saved. On June 26, 2008 Chai had his tongue amputated.

He was kept in after-care for an additional three days. On Sunday June 29th I brought Chai home from the vet with a barrage of home care instructions, to last for an additional 7 days. His next visit was to have his mouth re-examined and have the feeding tube in his neck removed.

(This is video of Chai showing the pain level that he had for the first three days despite being on heavy doses of pain medication)

On the way home from the vet we stopped at Petland Discount where I purchased their product to speak to the manager on duty. Upon meeting Chai and seeing his condition, he removed all of the balls in question from the shelves. He also gave me the customer service number to their corporate headquarters to request that they refuse to continue purchasing all Four Paws products, but I have not called them as of yet.

Additionally, I shared my story with friends who have a French Bulldog named Petunia. Upon hearing my story their eyes widened. They explained that the same thing happened twice in one night with a smaller version of the same ball to their dog. Fortunately, they were able to pull it off before the tongue swelled, but not without tremendous effort and pain to the dog. They recalled how horrific it was to hear their dog screaming while they had to pry the ball from her tongue.

To date, my veterinary bills total over $5000.00 and I will have regular follow up appointments for some time. Additionally, Chai now requires a much more expensive form of food because of this injury, averaging
approximately $200 per month.

Also - I am Chai's sole caretaker and the regime required to care for him following his surgery has forced me to lose a great deal of business. I am a hair stylist and my salon is in my home. Given that Chai needs constant attention, and given that he has been wailing in pain, I have not been able to see clients.

Additionally, I now have to re-teach my dog to eat, drink and adjust to life without his tongue. Just walking him requires about 30 min twice a day and we only make it three blocks. Feeding him takes me about 90 minutes twice a day and for at least this first week he is not to be unattended for more than 20 minutes at time.

The following is a link to an animal treatment clinic that has also documented the same injury to a Shepard mix.


I sent this information along with the reference to Petunia the french bulldog to Four Paws Inc, and it is their position that there just aren't enough instances to do anything about this. I told their Insurance
company's case manager that was not a good enough excuse, It was inferred that my dogs value wasn't much and that his pain and suffering don't count as he is just a piece of property.

This should never happen to another animal again!

I'M CALLING FOR AN INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT OF ALL FOUR PAWS PRODUCTS UNTIL THIS PRODUCT IS RECALLED. We need your help, please take the time to make your voice heard.

Please copy/paste the following into the body of your email in support of this boycott and send it to the address below to let Allen Simon the CEO of four paws know your stand;

Mr. Allen Simon,

I am in support of a boycott of your company until you recall the product pimple ball with bell, as it is designed is such a way that irreparable damage can be caused by its use.



Origins:   In mid-August 2008, a pet owner posted to his personal blog a horrific account of injuries sustained by his dog after the animal's tongue became lodged in a "pimple ball" dog toy. The narrative, which was accompanied by gruesome photos of

the wounded pooch, described the efforts to remove the ball from the animal's tongue and the veterinary care it subsequently underwent. According to the account,
ultimately the dog's tongue had to be amputated.

The blogger (identified in his posts only as "CHAI," the same name as the dog), also reported his efforts to get the manufacturer of the toy to remove the item from store shelves, summarizing its response as "and it is their position that there just aren't enough instances to do anything about this."

The unfolding story of Chai's and his owner's travails is recorded at https://www.thechaistory.blogspot.com/. In a post dated 24 August 2008, Chai's owner describes his interactions with Four Paws, the maker of the toy that injured his dog. According to that blog, the company's response to his contacting them was to forward everything to their insurance company. Said insurance company not only did not reply to him within the two-week timeframe they had imposed on themselves (instead, he contacted them once three weeks had passed), but they tendered an unspecified offer that did not include instituting a recall of the toy.

The blog's initial entry came to be widely circulated in e-mail, along with its call for a boycott of all Four Paws products until the product was recalled.

On 26 August 2008, the toy's manufacturer placed a notice on its site advising that the toy in question was being recalled from the market and replaced with a redesigned version:

Four Paws is deeply concerned about reports of injuries suffered by some dogs as a result of a manufacturing defect in some of its Pimple Ball with Bell toys. In August 2008, we stopped shipping all potentially affected toys and implemented a recall directing all our distributors to have retailers remove them from their shelves and return them at Four Paws expense.

We have since redesigned both the toys and packaging to insure this defect will not occur again. Please be assured that the safety and well being of pets is and always will be Four Paws top priority.

For list of UPCs plus the address for product returns, click here.

Last updated:   16 January 2009

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.