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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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As the investigation continues, the FDA said it will alert consumers about the issue through a fact sheet distributed with a letter to veterinarians. The agency also advised pet owners to remember that treats are not necessary and are not an essential part of a well-balanced diet. Pet owners are encouraged to report any illnesses that may be tied to jerky treats by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for their state.

The FDA advised pet owners to remain cautious about providing jerky treats to their pets and to be aware of potential symptoms of gastrointestinal or urinary problems, since about 60 percent of cases involved gastrointestinal conditions and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary function.

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.

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