While pet treats continue to quietly disappear from store shelves across the country following the discovery of numerous illegal drug residues in the two of the nation’s top-selling pet treat brands, the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) announced earlier this week that they are soliciting veterinarians to submit information about adverse events associated with the troubled treats.
The VIN News Service put out a plea to vets that they need more data to help solve the mystery surrounding the thousands of reported illnesses and deaths of pets following consumption of jerky treats. to help solve the puzzle that has eluded federal investigators for years, veterinary toxicology and pathology team at the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) is collecting information on dogs that have become ill after eating jerky treats.
The project team is asking only veterinarians to submit cases, preferably cases for which laboratory data is available. Pet parents are also encouraged to contact their veterinarians about participating.
Dr. Kendal Harr, a veterinary clinical pathologist who is spearheading the effort, said, “We’re trying to establish a database that is only inputted by veterinarians to try to weed out cases that are really caused by other diseases, which is a real complicating factor in the FDA database.”
As of December 17, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 2674 jerky pet treat reports, involving 3243 dogs, 9 cats, of which 501 dogs died, and 1 cat died.
The brands affected by the recalls are: Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch dog treats marketed by Nestle Purina; Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers marketed by Del Monte Corp.; Publix Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats sold by the grocery chain Publix Super Markets; and Cadet chicken jerky sold by IMS Pet Industries, Inc.
Although the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) admits it is “possible” that drug exposures caused the signs and symptoms reported in these reports, they remain unconvinced. Meanwhile, the FDA Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, told VIN that, “We welcome any addition information we can gain from VIN members on existing and new cases.”
One of the central features of the puzzling cases is the association with Fanconi-like syndrome. The FDA has received 112 confirmed cases of acquired Fanconi syndrome, which are significant when you realize that Fanconi syndrome usually is an inherited disease, and a rare one at that. Until the jerky treats problem surfaced, the syndrome in dogs was found most often in Basenjis.
Besides increased thirst and urination, clinical signs include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs that, Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, VIN toxicologist said, “should be evident within four days of jerky consumption to be considered viable cases for the purposes of VIN’s survey.”
VIN said they are particularly interested in cases in which laboratory workup results show electrolyte abnormalities in the blood and/or urinalysis showing glucosuria and proteinuria indicating a renal abnormalities. In addition they would like samples of suspect jerky, along with the lot number if possible, frozen tissue samples from necropsies and urine from active cases when samples are collected within 24 hours of jerky treat ingestion
Veterinarians who are members of VIN may access the online survey here. Veterinarians who are not members of VIN may call toll-free (800) 700-4636 to obtain a temporary login and password to access the survey.
VIN hopes that the survey will bring a “turning point in the investigation” and the cases would be “critical to define a causal link between jerky treats and the Fanconi syndrome that has been associated with it.”