On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a notice to consumers and veterinarians asking cat and dog owners to contact the agency if their pet became ill after eating pet jerky treats.
The FDA had sent out warnings earlier this year, but have still not identified the toxin that is believed to have affected 3,600 dogs and 10 cats who became ill after eating the treats since 2007; mostly treats manufactured and imported from China. There have been 580 dog deaths reported.
A number of jerky treats were removed from the market in January. The illness has not been associated with any one particular brand, and more than 1,200 tests have been conducted along with visits to processing companies, however the cause still 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."
The FDA has released the type of information they need to conduct further tests. All expenses to veterinarians will be paid for by the FDA, and pet owners will be notified should their pet be involved in the investigation.
It is strongly suggested pet owners do not give any jerky treats especially ones that contain chicken, duck, sweet potato, and dried fruit. Most dogs affected suffered from gastrointestinal distress, while a smaller percentage of dogs suffered from kidney and urinary problems.
For the most part, China has been dealing with food safety issues for years, ranging from the use of illegal additives, improper handling and hygiene, and the use of unsafe materials.
If your pet suffers from decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea within hours of consuming a jerky treat, contact your veterinarian immediately.
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