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The great jerky dilemma

Pictured here are strips of chicken jerky dog treats.
Pictured here are strips of chicken jerky dog treats.
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The FDA has issued numerous alerts over the years about jerky treats for pets that have (mostly) come from China causing illness in our beloved best friends. Since 2007 3,600 cases of canine illness (and 10 cats) related to jerky treats have been reported to them, with approximately 580 deaths resulting. Those numbers are nothing to sniff at. Over one thousand tests have been conducted and visits to Chinese treat manufacturers have been done. There's a lot of collaboration going on but there is still no exact cause pinpointed.

Illness typically occurs within hours of ingestion that can include:

Decreased appetite

Lethargy

Vomiting

Diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus)

Increased water consumption

And/or increased urination

Other times, and more rarely, other various symptoms like convulsions, collapse, and skin issues have presented. Most often issues are GI related but can involve the kidneys and urinary systems. It's scary.

In October of 2013, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine issued a letter to US licensed veterinarians asking for their help to find the cause(s) but here's what you should know -

Treats sold as jerky tenders /strips made out of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit have been part of this problem. Most often, we hear about the chicken jerky treats so be aware! Treats are not an essential part of the canine diet, so better safe than sorry: avoid jerky treats altogether. And pet food manufacturers are not required by law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products so it may not be obvious if what you buy is Chinese in origin. So jerky with names like "American" in the title or an American flag on the package can be misleading.

If you suspect a jerky treat given to your dog has caused illness, quit feeding the treat and get them to the vet. Save any packaging and left over treats in case testing can be done.