The Food and Drug Administration has just published a report on jerky treats that are making pets sick. The government would like to hear from you if your dog or cat became ill after eating those products. Many alerts have been issued about these products. Since 2007, more than 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill after eating these treats, and almost 600 have died.
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has conducted more than 1,200 tests on the problem products, visited the manufacturers in China (and were refused permission to test the Chinese products in non-Chinese labs), and collaborated with colleagues around the world to study this issue, but have been unable to find the exact cause of the illnesses and deaths. The products were tested for chemical contaminants, microbiological contaminants, metals, pesticides, Salmonella, and DNA. FDA is now asking vets and pet owners to provide them with more information to try to solve this mystery.
The government will be sending a letter to U.S. licensed veterinarians, listing what information is needed for labs that are testing treats and investigating the illnesses and deaths associated with those treats. A fact sheet for consumers will accompany the letter.
For pet owners, the FDA lists the problems to watch for. Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes, and/or dried fruit, some pets exhibit decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea that may have blood or mucus in it, increased water consumption, and increased urination. Severely ill pets have developed kidney failure, GI bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. Sixty percent of cases involve GI illness, about 30% involve kidney and urinary systems, and the remaining cases involve collapse, convulsions, or skin issues.
Some of these pet jerky products were removed from the market in January 2013 after a New York laboratory found up to six drugs in the treats made in China. After the treats were removed from the market, there was a decrease in reports of jerky-related illnesses. And in October 2012, Kasel Industries recalled Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats that may have been contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Jerky treats are not necessary for a pet’s health or well-being. The FDA urges pet owners to be cautious about giving these treats to their pets. If you do give them to your dog or cat and your pet becomes sick, stop the treats immediately, see your veterinarian, and save treats and the packaging for possible testing.