Pet owners have become alarmed and concerned about jerky pet treats after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has linked them to a mysterious outbreak that has led to several hundred sick dogs and cats which have resulted in 580 deaths.
The treats, made mainly in China, are jerky tenders or strips made of duck, chicken, dried fruit and/or potatoes. The biggest concern is that China and its manufacturers of pet foods are not bound by U.S. laws to list the country of origin for each product.
“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” according to veterinarian Dr. Bernadette Dunham, Director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The agency is urging veterinarians and pet owners worldwide to contact the FDA if their pets have been sick and to contact the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator within their state.
To date, reported symptoms of sick animals include decreased appetite, activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increase in water intake and increase in urination within hours of consuming the treats.
With so much unknown about what ingredients are in the jerky treats or causing the illnesses, pet owners should be careful about feeding them to their pets, especially if the animal becomes sick after eating them. In the event your pet does become sick after ingesting jerky-treats, it’s imperative to contact your veterinarian immediately upon the first sign of illness.
The agency has tested some 1,100 jerky pet treat samples, since 2011, in conjunction with many laboratories across the country. The FDA is also working with regulators and scientists in China to get to the root of the issue. With so many pet treats available on the market, it’s simply not worth the risk to feed your pet jerky.
The FDA has more information for pet owners in this Fact Sheet.