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FDA Probes Dog Illnesses Tied to Jerky Treats

Since 2007, about 580 pets have died as a result of illnesses related to the products, experts say

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To help pet owners recognize possible signs of trouble, the FDA provided information on symptoms that pets may develop within hours of eating jerky treats, including:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased activity
  • Diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus)
  • Increased water intake or urination

In more extreme cases, pets have experienced kidney failure, bleeding in the GI tract and a rare kidney disorder. In some cases, the animals experienced other symptoms, including collapse, convulsions or skin issues.

In January, a number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market after a New York State lab found evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. The FDA pointed out, however, that the levels of these drugs were very low and it's not likely they caused the illnesses.

Although the number of reported cases has declined since these products were removed from store shelves, the FDA said that was probably because fewer jerky treats were available to consumers.

Pet owners who notice that their pet has become ill after eating jerky treats should stop offering these treats immediately. They also should consider taking the pet to the vet and saving the remaining jerky treats for possible testing, the FDA said.

The focus of the investigation into the cause of these illnesses may turn to the supply chain for certain ingredients in the treats, since the FDA has found that one firm used falsified receiving documents for glycerin, a jerky ingredient. Chinese authorities said they had seized products at the firm and halted its exports.

The FDA said it also plans to reach out to Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility and U.S. pet food firms to increase scientific cooperation.

"Our fervent hope as animal lovers is that we will soon find the cause of and put a stop to these illnesses," Dunham said.

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