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US made jerky treats tied to serious illness in dogs

According to a report this week, dogs fed jerky-style pet treats labeled as ‘Made in the United States’ are turning up with a rare kidney disease that’s formerly only been associated with jerky ‘Made in China.’

Until now, a serious illness associated with the jerky treat consumption was confined to products originating in China. Now, vets are sounding the alarm over all jerky type treats regardless of the country of origin on the label, including all U.S. made jerky-style pet treats.

According to the report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is aware of complaints related to USA-made products:

“We have found some of these products may contain ingredients from outside of the US. FDA continues its investigation into these, as well as other, jerky treats potentially linked to illnesses,” said Siobhan DeLancey of the FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine.

A DREADED DISEASE

The disease, known as acquired Fanconi syndrome, is being diagnosed in dogs that eat treats that are labeled ‘Made in the USA’ and not labeled as ‘Made in China’ or made with ingredients from China.

When testing of the imported treats revealed numerous  antibiotics, DEET, and the antiviral amantadine, many companies shifted manufacturing to the U.S. due to public pressure.

The solution appeared to be simple: Don’t buy chicken jerky treats from China.

FLAWED ADVICE

Unfortunately, flaws in the advice began to appear when similar diseases starting popping up in pets who hadn’t eaten chicken jerky at all. The jerky they had ingested contained other ingredients, like duck or sweet potatoes.

And now, it appears that the safest advice may be to avoid all commercially available jerky-style pet treats regardless of what country the package claims the ingredients are from.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN

Whether American-made treats are less suspect than or equally suspect as Chinese-made treats is impossible to say, because labels tend to tell an incomplete story. The problem is that manufacturers may list the ingredients as being sourced from U.S. distributors, but they are not required to inform consumers where their suppliers sourced the ingredients.

Pet parents need to be aware that manufacturers do not need to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products, and thus may still contain ingredients sourced from China or other countries that export to the U.S.

THE BEST ADVICE

If there is a bright spot in all of this, it appears that the problem is confined to commercially made jerky and not that of homemade jerky pet treats. According to the report:

“There have been cases in which dogs ate homemade jerky without becoming ill, then became ill when fed commercially manufactured jerkies.”

If your pet does become sick from a suspected jerky treat, pet owners are encouraged to report the information to the FDA. To find out more about how to make a report, visit my helpful guide on how to do so.

SOURCE: Lau, Edie. “American-made Jerky Tied to Illness in Dogs.” VIN News Service, 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=36295>.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comment (1) Write a comment

  1. We must examine the societal phenomena, why consumers continue to “trust” pet food manufacturers with which they have a pretty obviously adversarial relationship. That relationship depends on the consumer being ignorant, and frankly, lazy. It bears scientific investigation… I’m not clear why no study of this issue has ever been undertaken!

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