Pet Jerky Treats Affecting Dogs

|| October 22, 2013

There has been a lot of press about jerky treats affecting dogs.  NBC's Today show reported that 600 pets have died and over 3600 pets have been reported ill.  Though factually correct, this is not a new problem - in fact, it has been going on since 2007.

What are the facts?

  • Since 2007, there have been pet illnesses and deaths related to eating jerky treats manufactured in China that contain chicken, duck or sweet potato.  So, the numbers reports are from the past 7 years and not just a recent outbreak.
  • The FDA has been working hard to identify a specific cause or toxin; unfortunately, to date, no specific toxin or chemical has been found as the causing agent.
  • This largely affects dogs, though there were a handful of cats included in the reports.
  • This toxicity is not related to the melamine toxicity reported in dog food from several years ago.  The FDA has tested for that particular substance.
  • A U.S.-based company voluntarily withdrew some of their chicken jerky treats in January 2013 due to antibiotic residue.  The removal of this product is unrelated to the toxicities being reported. 
  • It appears that smaller breed dogs may be more susceptible. At this point, we don't know if that is related to size or some specific breed susceptibilty.
  • It appears that it affects dogs that get a disproportionate amount of their calories from treats, as opposed to traditional commercial dog food.
  • Pets that were affected and sought early and appropriate care with veternarians generally did well.

What can pet owners do?

  1. Make sure your dog treats are manufactured and processed in the United States.  This may require careful reading and some internet research, as there isn't a list of all the treats that may be affected.
  2. If your pet starts to show any abnormal symptoms but specifically: increased water consumption, increased urination, vomiting, or diarrhea, please check with your veterinarian.  Be sure to mention the possibility of jerky treats being eaten.  Additional testing can be done in conjunction with this FDA study.
  3. Make sure your pet is eating a well balanced diet, and use the treats as an occasional treat as opposed to a large portion of their diet.

For more information:

NBC News article

AVMA Information on Jerky Treat Toxicity

FDA Pet Jerky Treat Page

FDA Fact Sheet for Pet Owners