The Food and Drug Administration is asking for information from the public and veterinarians concerning pet illnesses caused by jerky treats to help their investigation. Since 2007 more than 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have been reported to the FDA with jerky treat linked illnesses. Nearly 600 of those pets have died.
The FDA states, “The agency urges pet owners to be cautious about providing jerky treats. If you do provide them and your pet becomes sick, stop the treats immediately, consider seeing your veterinarian, and save any remaining treats and the packaging for possible testing.”
Most of the jerky treats in question include jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit and were made in China. However, U.S. law doesn’t require manufacturers to disclose the country of origin on their packages so consumers can’t avoid these products based on the labels. Many jerky treat products were removed from the market in January of this year after a New York State Lab found low levels of up to six drugs in jerky treats made in China.
The FDA reports, “To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.
To gather even more information, FDA is reaching out to licensed veterinarians and pet owners across the country. “This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” says CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”
In a letter addressing U.S. licensed veterinarians, FDA lists what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the treats. In some cases, veterinarians will be asked to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from their patients for further analysis. FDA will request written permission from pet owners and will cover the costs, including shipping, of any tests it requests.
Meanwhile, a consumer fact sheet will accompany the letter to veterinarians so they can alert consumers to the problem and remind them that treats are not essential to a balanced diet. The fact sheet also explains to consumers how they can help FDA’s investigation by reporting potential jerky pet treat-related illnesses online or by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for their state.”
Symptoms to look for include decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination.
Severe cases have involved pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure and a rare kidney disorder called Fanconi syndrome. About 60 percent of cases involved gastrointestinal illness, and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary systems.
The remaining cases reported various symptoms, such as collapse, convulsions or skin issues.
Read the full consumer report here.
The consumer fact sheet can be found here.
Report pet food complaints here.
For more information including questions and answers about jerky treats can be found here.
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