By Susan Barnett

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — They’re popular dog treats, often advertised as wholesome and healthy. But some dog owners say they’re dangerous, even deadly, and the federal government is investigating.

Last November, Chancey, a 10-year-old pug, died.

“Chancey was one of the friendliest dogs,” says Candace Thaxton.

Thaxton thought she died of old age, but her vet said it was kidney failure. Shortly after she lost Chancey, Candace got a new dog named Penny.

“I was sitting at the computer, and I saw the warning on the chicken jerky treats,” says Thaxton.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued a statement regarding chicken jerky treats made in China.

“I went and grabbed the bag, and when I looked at the bag, it said it was manufactured and distributed in South Carolina, but under the bar code it had ‘Made in China.’”

Thaxton had a bag of Waggin Train chicken jerky treats. It’s what she had fed Chancey. And Penny had been eating them, too.

“The puppy was vomiting… we took the puppy into the vet the next morning, and the results came back that the puppy was in kidney failure,” says Thaxton.

The FDA’s first warning about chicken jerky products from China came in 2007. Last year, the FDA said it saw an increase in the number of complaints it received of illnesses, including kidney problems.

Terry Safranek says her dog died of kidney failure after eating Chinese chicken jerky.

“I’m devastated, because I know it came from my hand. I fed him the treat that killed him,” says Safranek.

The FDA has no answers yet, saying “no specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined.”

In March, the American Veterinary Medical Association said based on preliminary information, “it appears that this problem is more likely to occur in small breed dogs that are fed these treats regularly and/or in amounts exceeding the label-recommended frequency or amount.”

Many dogs do recover after getting sick, but Safranek is still worried.

“We don’t want another dog to die from chicken jerky,” Safranek says.

Waggin Train says it has a “comprehensive food safety program” and that its treats are safe to feed as directed…and millions of dogs continue to enjoy them.

For more information, including symptoms of possible kidney failure in dogs, see links below:

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