The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert to consumers about the illnesses and deaths tied to jerky treats from China. According to officials, the exact cause of death remains unknown.
Health officials are warning dog owners to be cautious about feeding their dogs jerky treats as they continue to investigate these illnesses.
“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”
Reports from pet owners and vets regarding jerky treat-related illnesses date back to 2007 and have affected 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S.A. About 580 of those pets have died, according to a news release.
Officials say the number of reports may have declined because fewer jerky treats were available to consumers. Following reports of tainted treats, a number of pet jerky treats were pulled from the market earlier this year.
How Do I Know If My Pet Is Sick?
Symptoms observed within hours of eating the treats include:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased activity
- Increased water consumption
- Increased urination
If your pet has any of these symptoms, please contact your vet as soon as possible.
“Our fervent hope as animal lovers is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses,” Dunham said.
Nearly two decades ago when I was a rookie reporter for the Huntington Herald Newspaper, I wrote a story about a woman whose dog almost died after eating rawhide treats.
The hide bunched up in a ball, blocking up the dog’s intestines and would not pass. It cost thousands in vet bills to save the dog.
I have never given any of my dogs rawhide since that time.
Aside from rawhide, treats made in China also are dangerous to pets, and with the holidays coming up and people wanting to give their “best friend” a special present to celebrate, you should be aware of all of the dangers of certain treats.
Severe cases have involved kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding, the FDA said.