Since 2007, the FDA has repeatedly warned consumers about apparent harm coming from pet jerky style dog treats. In a consumer update bulletin on October 22nd, the FDA is again warning pet owners of the potential hazard of jerky treats that have been primarily imported from China.
In 2011, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine finally decided to investigate the serious ill effects of consuming jerky style pet treats. Since then they have completed more than 1200 tests for a variety of chemical and microbiological contaminants, pesticides and Salmonella. DNA testing has also been conducted, along with tests for nutritional composition. They have even visited manufacturing plants in China to try to track down the source of what's causing the illnesses. Since 2007, they also report that 3600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill due to eating the jerky treats. Most are able to recover fully, but sadly, of those pets that have gotten sick, nearly 600 have died due to related illness.
In March of 2012, MSNBC news reported that a few brands of dog treats were being implicated for contamination. And in January of 2013 several brands of jerky dog treats were pulled from the shelves when a lab found up to six unapproved antibiotic drugs in samples they tested. Since nothing has been definitively pinpointed as the source of contamination, the warning still stands and the FDA is even actively reaching out to consumers and veterinarians for information and cooperation if they know of any sickness resulting from ingesting these types of pet treat. They do however think they may have narrowed the field down to treats that contain chicken or duck.
According to the FDA consumer bulletin, is here is what to look for shortly after your pet has consumed a contaminated jerky treat:
"Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit, some pets have exhibited decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination. Severe cases have involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. 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.
Of course, one of the best ways keep your pet safe from contaminated pet treats would be to make your own, with homemade ingredients. Here is an example of just one recipe I found that you and your pet might find pretty tasty in lieu of the dangers currently associated with store bought treats.
Others I have found to have devoted much time and energy into educating pet owners to the hazards found in store bought food. The trick is to know what your pet can and cannot eat, as there is quite a vast list of 'human' foods that are actually poisonous for our four-legged family members.
The FDA has a consumer fact sheet available that spells out who to contact and what to report should your pet become sick after eating a store bought jerky style pet treat. Since this remains such a mystery to pet owners, manufacturers and the FDA, any and all information would be a great help to many.
For more in depth information, visit the FDA's Drug Safety Information Portal.
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