My dogs love chicken jerky treats. If we have them in the house, both of my dogs will turn down any other treat and hold out for chicken jerky. This headline on MSN.com caught my attention the other day “3 Big Brands May be Tied to Chicken Jerky Illness in Dogs, FDA Records Show.”
The Food and Drug Administration has received over 600 complaints alleging that dogs have become sick after eating chicken jerky products imported from China. The FDA has issued three cautionary warnings since September 2007 and indicates that the number of complaints increased in 2011. Complaints have come from both dog owners and veterinarians.
Symptoms reported include decreased appetite (although some dogs may continue to eat the treats instead of other foods), decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood) and increased water drinking and/or increased urination. Blood tests have shown kidney failure and urine tests have shown increased glucose.
The FDA reminds us that these treats are intended to be used occasionally, in small quantities, and should not be substituted for a balanced diet. Owners of small dogs must be especially careful to limit the amount of treats. If you do choose to feed your dog chicken jerky treats, the FDA advises you to watch your dog closely for any of the above signs, which may occur within hours or days of consumption. If signs do appear, stop feeding the product and consult a veterinarian if signs are severe or last for more than 24 hours.
The FDA is working with several veterinary diagnostic laboratories to find a cause for the symptoms. So far, extensive testing has not identified any contaminant and the FDA acknowledges that many of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky. Since no definitive cause has been determined, the FDA cannot recall these products. Illness has also been reported in Canada and Australia. The University of Sydney is investigating cases and at least one company in Australia has recalled its chicken jerky product. The FDA is collaborating with authorities in other countries as well.
Illness associated with pet food should be reported to the local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator ((312) 353-7840 in Illinois) or at http://www.fda.gov/
Dog owners who believe their dogs became ill or died after eating chicken jerky have launched petitions demanding recalls of jerky pet treats made in China. Over 6,000 people have signed a petition started by Robin Pierre, who co-founded Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China after her 2-year-old pug, Bella, died last fall. Close to 4,000 people have signed a petition launched by Susan Rhodes. Ms. Rhodes believes her 14-year-old dog, Ginger, may have developed life-threatening kidney failure after eating chicken jerky treats.