Yesterday the FDA released a request to all veterinarians in the United States. They are asking that veterinarians who are treating cats and dogs who have become sick after eating jerky pet treats contact them immediately. The FDA is hoping that blood, urine and tissue samples from certain sick animals may help them determine what is causing these mysterious illnesses.
Jerky pet treats (mostly made in China) have been making pets sick since 2007, but so far the actual cause of the illness has eluded the FDA. The offending jerky pet treats can be made of chicken, duck, turkey, sweet potato or dried fruit. Although several brands of treats were recalled in January of this year, the six drugs reportedly found in these treats were found in very low levels and are likely not the cause of the illnesses we are seeing. Since 2007, 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill after eating the treats with 580 of those pets dying.
Symptoms of illness include decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased drinking and urination. Gastrointestinal upset/bleeding and kidney failure are the culprits of these symptoms. Additional symptoms have included skin problems, collapse, convulsions and seizures.
The FDA has tested numerous jerky treats for chemical and microbial contaminants, antibiotics, pesticides, and Salmonella. DNA testing of the products as well as inspections of production plants in China have also been conducted. As hard as the FDA has been working (with pet food firms in the US, scientists and production plants in China and veterinarians in the US) they still have not determined the cause of disease.
River Road Veterinary Clinic has treated patients for acute kidney disease likely related to the ingestion of these treats. Until the cause of illness has determined, River Road Veterinary Clinic recommends ONLY feeding treats made within the United States (such as Hills pet treats). Finding pet treats that are made in the US can be difficult since the FDA does not require that pet food manufacturers disclose the source of their ingredients. Locally made pet treats such as Wagatha’s Organic Dog Biscuits, Vermont Gourmet Dog Treats, Green Mountain Treats, and Brewski Biscuits offer an advantage since they are all made with local ingredients. Making pet treats at home in also a great way to ensure that your dog is not ingesting potentially harmful ingredients from outside the United States. Cesar’s Way provides some great homemade dog treat recipes and Simply Pets provides some tasty cat treat recipes.
If you notice your dog or cat exhibiting any concerning signs after possibly eating jerky treats please contact River Road Veterinary Clinic immediately at (802)649-3877.