According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nearly 600 dogs have died and more than 3,600, including 10 cats, have been sickened in an outbreak of illnesses tied to jerky treats made in China.
“To date, testing for contaminants in jerky treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses,” Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in the new report. “Despite these warnings, we have continued to receive reports of illnesses in both cats and dogs.”
To gather even more information, the 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 is sending letters to U.S. licensed veterinarians, listing what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the jerky treats. In some cases, veterinarians will be asked to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from their patients for further analysis. FDA will request written permission from pet owners and will cover the costs, including shipping, of any tests it requests.
“This testing will allow FDA to get a better idea of how many of the suspected cases involve Fanconi syndrome, whether or not the pets display symptoms of kidney or urinary disease,” the FDA report said.
“We still are extensively testing treats for a number of things,” Hartogensis told NBC News. “We do seem to be getting some leads, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go.”
“If we do find an adulterated product, we will recall them,” Hartogensis said. “In terms of doing a blanket recall, at this point we don’t have enough evidence to do a blanket recall within the authority that we have.”
Some jerky treats were pulled from shelves in January 2013 after a New York State lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky treats that were made in China.
Dr. Karl Jandrey, an assistant professor and board-certified clinical and emergency medicine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in California has been telling pet owners since the first outbreak to avoid jerky treats altogether, since so much is unknown about what ingredients in the products are causing the illnesses, or which products are affected.
“There are so many other dog treats to choose or use,” Jandrey told CBS News. “I don’t see why anyone would still use jerky treats.”
To help pet owners recognize possible symptoms, the FDA provided information on what their pets may develop within hours of eating the dog treats. Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit, some pets have had a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination.
The FDA reports that in some severe cases it has involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. About 60 percent of cases involved gastrointestinal illness, and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary systems.
The remaining cases reported various symptoms, such as collapse, convulsions or skin issues.
The FDA said it also plans to reach out to Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility and U.S. pet food firms to increase scientific cooperation.
“Our fervent hope as animal lovers is that we will soon find the cause of and put a stop to these illnesses,” Dunham said.
600 Dogs Dead From Eating Jerky Treats – FDA Unable To Solve Dog Treat Mystery
Dogs have died after consuming jerky treats manufactured in China and now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a call for help to veterinarians. Despite voluntary recalls by companies like pet food makers Nestle Purina and Del Monte, the death and sickness tallies have continued to rise since the FDA first received reports of the effects of the treats in 2007.