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What's poisoning our pets? It is not just jerky treats

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Pet care

The FDA has issued a warning about toxic pet treats that is sickening dogs, some cats and have even been linked to some deaths, but from what exactly remains a mystery.

Since 2007 580 pets have died. Jerky treats may have sickened 3,600 dogs and 10 cats. The specific treats in question are jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit.

Symptoms of jerky treat poisoning to watch for

Within hours of eating the treats pets become lethargic. Other symptoms include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhea that is sometimes bloody and lack of appetite. The mysterious illness affects the gastrointestinal tract in 60 percent of cases. The most severe illness linked to jerky treats are kidney failure, a rare type of kidney disease known as Fanconi syndrome, pancreatitis and bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.

In response to reports the U.S. FDA has issued letters to veterinarians across the country asking for help tracking down the exact source of the poisonings.

What pet owners should know

  • If your dog or cat becomes sick after eating any treat, stop giving it
  • Take the treat to your veterinarian in a sealed back for analysis
  • Have your animal checked as soon as possible. Your veterinarian may ask for blood and stool samples.
  • Call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your State and give details
  • Hold on to the original container of treats that made your pet sick for 60 days in case the FA asks for testing
  • Put the container in a sealable bag
  • Report problems to http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/
  • Contact the pet food company to alert them to the problem
  • Don't give your pet treats. The FDA reminds us they're not part of a balanced diet.

"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," veterinarian Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.

Since 2011 more than 1200 jerky treat samples have been tested by the FDA but there are still no answers.

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The FDA has tested the treats for chemicals, pesticides and other toxins and analyzed the nutritional content of the treats to verify they contain what is listed.

For years dog treats from China have been in the news for causing illness. Initial complaints from pet parents were related to Waggin' Train, Canyon Creek Ranch that are both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., Milo's Kitchen and Kingdom Pets, Waggin' Train, Canyon Creek Ranch and Milo's Kitchen treats were voluntarily recalled early 2012 because trace amounts of unapproved antibiotics were found in treats

Other pet treats recalled from China included Cadet, Publix brand and Chicken Chews™ and Oinkies® Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken for dogs from Hartz. The antibiotics did not appear to pose any health risks to pets.

Now the complaints include dog jerky treats containing chicken, duck and sweet potato.

In spring of 2012 the FDA conducted investigations in five Chinese plants but no samples were allowed to be brought back to the U.S. for testing. One plant reportedly falsified information about glycerin, one of the nutritional ingredients, in their product.

In the meantime, many pet owners are still unaware that jerky treats are causing major illnesses in dogs and some cats, despite media coverage.

There are also current concerns from pet owners about Beneful that owners claim is killing dogs, though Purina stands by the product saying none of the food has been contaminated.

Watch as a Purina representative admits some ingredients in Beneful may come from China.

If your pet becomes sick from jerky treats or any other food, report it to help solve the mysterious pet poisonings that have been going on for years. Given past recalls of pet treats it may be wise to not feed your dog any treats, but especially those made in China. Suspect any food that makes your pet sick after eating.



My dog has been sick by taking Cadet Duck Breast treats
Oh no Shawn. Is your dog going to be okay and has been seen by a veterinarian? We love our animals so much.
I am interested in weather or not KINGDOM PETS duck and sweetpotato is OK or not. The company says it's safe but I just want verification. Thanks
I don't know Gwen. I don't feed mine treats anymore; especially from China. They were recalled last year. Once is enough for me.
our outside labadoodle got really sick and our inside Morkie did not make it .. just bought a new bag of benifill a week before...
David I am so sorry. I had been giving my own dog Beneful when I started seeing online discussions and listened to the interview above. Thank you for sharing to help others. I am sincerely sorry for your loss. Our pets are family too.