Barbara's Beat: Why are jerky pet treats making them sick? Has your pet died as a result of jerky treats?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why are jerky pet treats making them sick?
Has your pet died as a result of jerky treats?

Rex was a rescue dog. This is his last day with us.
While serving overseas, we got our first German Shepherd, Rex. He was an older, gentle dog. We brought him home to the states with us. He filled our lives and hearts with happiness. 

We gave him jerky treats made in China then he started showing signs of pain. It broke our hearts to see him suffering as his body shut down. The vet said we needed to be unselfish and let him go. I held him and told him to go to sleep then carried him home and buried him.

Elsie loved going boating with her dad. She was queen.
Later, I agreed to let my husband get a new puppy. He choose a female German Shepherd, and we named her Elsie. She became a a member of our family and helped fill the emptiness in our hearts. 

Elsie grew up with our grandkids and went everywhere with her dad. She had more than her share of jerky treats. Until she too, was taken from us way too soon. Her body shut down and she was unable to stand up. She couldn't control going to the bathroom and she was in pain. We had to let her join her brother.

Elsie as a puppy, and our first grandson, Tyler.
Had we known sooner, feeding our dogs jerky treats from China would be deadly, we would have made our own. When the dog food scare hit the US, we started making our own dog food to protect Elsie, but it was too late. She was already sick. The vet said she didn't have a chance.

Our grandkids spent time with Elsie the night before she died.

I firmly believe the jerky treats killed both my dogs and my mother's dog, Patches, who was young and healthy, but his organs shut down after treats from China. It may have contributed to other pet deaths of hers as well. 

Do yourself a favor and don't take a chance on your pets lives. If you love your pets, don't feed them any food or treats from China.

By the FDA

If you have a dog or cat that became ill after eating jerky pet treats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to hear from you or your veterinarian.

The agency has repeatedly issued alerts to consumers about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets have died.

To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.
To gather even more information, 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."

In a letter addressing U.S. licensed veterinarians, FDA lists what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the 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.

Meanwhile, a consumer fact sheet will accompany the letter to veterinarians so they can alert consumers to the problem and remind them that treats are not essential to a balanced diet. The fact sheet also explains to consumers how they can help FDA's investigation by reporting potential jerky pet treat-related illnesses online or by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for their state.

What to Look Out For

Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit, some pets have exhibited decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination.

Severe cases have 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.

Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China. Manufacturers of pet foods are not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.

A number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January 2013 after a New York State lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. While the levels of these drugs were very low and it's unlikely that they caused the illnesses, FDA noted a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses after the products were removed from the market. FDA believes that the number of reports may have declined simply because fewer jerky treats were available.

Meanwhile, the agency urges pet owners to be cautious about providing jerky treats. If you do provide them and your pet becomes sick, stop the treats immediately, consider seeing your veterinarian, and save any remaining treats and the packaging for possible testing. 

What FDA Is Doing

More than 1,200 jerky pet treat samples have been tested since 2011 for a variety of chemical and microbiological contaminants, from antibiotics to metals, pesticides and Salmonella. DNA testing has also been conducted, along with tests for nutritional composition.

In addition to continuing to test jerky pet treat samples within FDA labs, the agency is working with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), an FDA-coordinated network of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the U.S. and Canada. (A summary of the tests is available on Vet-LIRN's webpage.)

Inspections of the facilities in China that manufacture jerky products associated with some of the highest numbers of pet illness reports did not identify the cause of illness. However, they did identify additional paths of investigation, such as the supply chain of some ingredients in the treats. Although FDA inspectors have found no evidence identifying the cause of the spate of illnesses, they did find that one firm used falsified receiving documents for glycerin, a jerky ingredient. Chinese authorities informed FDA that they had seized products at the firm and suspended its exports.

To identify the root cause of this problem, FDA is meeting regularly with regulators in China to share findings. The agency also plans to host Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility to increase scientific cooperation.

FDA has also reached out to U.S. pet food firms seeking further collaboration on scientific issues and data sharing, and has contracted with diagnostic labs.

"Our fervent hope as animal lovers," says Dunham, "is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses."

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Since 2007, FDA has received reports of illnesses in pets associated with the consumption of jerky pet treats. As of Sept. 24, 2013, FDA has received approximately 3000 reports of pet illnesses which may be related to consumption of the jerky treats. The reports involve more than 3600 dogs, 10 cats and include more than 580 deaths.

FDA has issued several advisories to the public about the illnesses, and, while the rate of reports has declined since February 2013, we are still receiving new complaints. We continue to investigate these illnesses in conjunction with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN) and State partners.

On Oct. 22, FDA issued a Dear Veterinarian letter to licensed practitioners, encouraging them to provide case information to FDA and Vet-LIRN, and asking them to advise their clients about the illnesses. We are also providing a Fact Sheet for pet owners explaining what symptoms to look for and steps they can take to protect their pets’ health. We also remind pet owners that treats are not needed for a balanced diet.

As veterinarians, animal scientists and pet owners, we strive to make sure that the products FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine regulates are safe, effective and properly manufactured. We understand the love and devotion pets provide, and we are determined to find the answer to this mystery.

1 comment :

Cindy Merrill said...

My heart goes out to you. I have two cats, Fred and Ginger. My babies are fed cat treats but I only buy the kibble form. Also, I prefer Organic cat food, but it's hellishly expensive, so I don't buy that kind often.