Chicken Jerky dog treats imported from China continue to pose serious health problems for American dogs. But despite five years of research and testing, it’s not clear why, according to the latest product safety update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In the July 18 update, the agency stops short of telling consumers not to feed the treats to their pets, but urges people who choose to do so to watch their pets for tellltale signs of serious illness: decreased appetite and activity, vomiting, diarrhea, and an increase in water consumption and urination. The dried chicken products are sold as “jerky,” “tenders,” “strips” or “treats.”
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has ben receiving complaints of canine illness associated with chicken jerky treats manufactured in China since 2007. The number of complaints dropped off in 2010 but picked up again last year. In November 2011, the agency issued a cautionary update saying basically what it said today: a number of dogs have become seriously ill after consuming chicken jerky treats from China, but tests haven’t yet shown why.
Jerky samples have been tested by the FDA, the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network and by other animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S . They have looked for chemical and microbiological contaminants including: Salmonella, pesticides, antibiotics and metals as well as furans, mycotoxins, rodenticides, nephrotoxins and other chemicals and poisonous compounds. Samples have been submitted for DNA verification to confirm the presence of poultry and analyzed for nutritional composition, vitamin D excess and enterotoxin analysis.
Yet none of these tests has been conclusive. “Samples collected from all over the United States have been tested for a wide variety of substances and to date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses,” the update states. The FDA continues to test and is now asking private diagnostic labs to submit quotes on conducting analysis of the nutritional composition of the dried chicken samples.
At this point, no recalls have been issued. The agency advises pet owners who do choose to feed their dogs these treats, to get medical attention for any dog who develops symptoms that last for more than 24 hours.