Jerky pet treats from China are being blamed for a massive epidemic of illness in dogs and cats in the US. An estimated 3600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill since 2007 after consuming the jerky treats, with 580 pets dying as a result of the contaminated pet food. The Food and Drug Administration is calling it “the most elusive and mysterious outbreak” they have ever encountered.
The deadly jerky treats have mostly originated from China, where safety regulations and protocols for labeling ingredients is dramatically limited. The FDA is asking pet owners and veterinarians to report a consumer complaint if their dog or cat has become ill or died after consuming jerky treats.
Meanwhile, if you’ve got a furry friend in your family, check your pet food stash for any jerky treats from China. The implicated products include jerky tenders or jerky strips made from chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit.
Protect Your Pet from Deadly Jerky Treats
Due to the lax standards in pet food manufacturing in other countries, spend a little extra to make sure Fido and Fifi’s jerky treats are Made in the USA. The jerky-borne outbreak causes a number of painful (and costly to treat) symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and urination, and kidney failure.
According to USA Today, both the FDA and the ASPCA are particularly distressed and puzzled by the outbreak, which has continued to put pets in the veterinary hospital since 2007:
Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, says that this outbreak is different than those in the past because of how long it has lasted.
“The fact that this has gone on for an extended period of time is different. In the past, all of the contaminated food has gone out at once, they figure out what it is, and there is a recall,” Wismer says. “The earliest cases in this were reported years ago.”
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has conducted approximately 1200 tests on jerky treats and visited manufacturers in China, with no successful leads to a single source of the outbreak.
In January of this year, Nestle Purina PetCare recalled its Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch dog treats. Another pet food manufacturer, Milo’s Kitchen, also pulled its Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers dog treats from store shelves during the same time. Regulators found that the recalled products contained trace amounts of antibiotics not approved in the US.
Other recent, deadly pet food outbreaks were caused by mold in 2006 and melamine contamination in 2007. The 2007 case was reportedly responsible for over 4000 pet deaths.
FDA Issues Veterinary Health Fact Sheet for Pet Owners
To assist pet owners who may be worried for their dog or cat, the FDA has released a helpful fact sheet with more details on the dangerous jerky treats.
The fact sheet explains how the FDA is testing samples as part of its investigation and elaborates on the symptoms exhibited by infected dogs and cats:
Signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products are decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination. Severe cases are diagnosed with pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, and kidney failure or the resemblance of a rare kidney related illness called Fanconi syndrome.
Download the full PDF here and share it with other pet-moms and dads in your community.
Additionally, if your pet has experienced any illness after consuming jerky treats, contact the manufacturer’s customer service and the store where you purchased the treats — after you get your pup or cat to the vet, of course.
Consumers are also encouraged to put any unused portion of the jerk treats in a sealed container and retain the product for a minimum of 60 days, in the event that the FDA asks the owner to provide samples for testing.