On October 22, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to all pet owners: be careful about giving your pets treats.
Since January 2013, nearly 600 dogs have died in the United States from pet treats, and an additional 3,000 dogs have been reported sick, suffering symptoms such as gastrointestinal bleeding, urinary issues, and kidney failure. Ten cats have also been made ill from contaminated treats, but no cat deaths have been reported.
According to the FDA, the treats causing the problems are sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and dried fruit and have been linked to Chinese manufacturers. Although the FDA has identified the source of the illnesses as Chinese treats, even after extensive investigation and testing, U.S. officials don’t know the reason the treats are causing illness and death. The FDA is currently investigating facilities and supply chains in China to try to identify the source of the illness.
Some manufacturers and distributors have recalled their treats, including those sold under the brand names Waggin’ Train and Milo’s Kitchen. However, many treats made in China remain on the market, posing a potential danger to your pets.
A pet affected by the mystery illness will likely have a decreased appetite, decreased energy level, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your pet to the vet immediately. Left untreated, the symptoms can be fatal to your pet.
The FDA encourages pet owners to reduce the amount of treats given to dogs, because treats are not necessary for your pet’s health. Though the FDA stops short of telling consumers to stop buying treat made in China, concerned pet parents may want to look for treats made in the USA. Or better yet, make healthy, safe treats easily at home. Recipes for homemade dog treats are easy to find.