Nasty Chicken Jerky Treats from China Associated with Severe Illness in Dogs – Again

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The Gruesome History of Icky Poopie Dog Treats from China

photo_of_dog_beggingIn September 2007, the  American Veterinary Medical Association issued an alert that stated they had been receiving calls from veterinarians reporting Fanconi syndrome-like disease in dogs that appeared to be associated with the consumption of Chicken_Jerkychicken jerky treats made in China. These products are also labeled as chicken tenders, strips or treats. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was alerted and investigated the complaints, but testing of the products (surprise, surprise) did not identify any toxins or contaminants. The AVMA continued to receive occasional reports of suspected cases through February 2009.

September 2009, in Australia an outbreak in dogs of acquired proximal renal tubulopathy,  were associated with the feeding of chicken jerky treats from China.  The kidney conditions, also known as Fanconi-like syndrome caused the fatality of a number of dogs.

On June 15, 2011, the AVMA received notification from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) that they have received reports that mirror the cases reported in 2007. The AVMA issued an alert to its members on June 16, informing them of the situation in Canada and recommending vigilance for any suspected cases in the U.S. The AVMA also issued an alert on June 17 to the state veterinary medical associations and allied organizations represented in the AVMA House of Delegates. These products may also labeled as chicken tenders, strips or treats.

What, Me Worry?

headless-animal-jerky-chinaThe type of kidney failure associated with chicken jerky strips is called acquired Fanconi syndrome. Urine test results consistently show glucose and granular casts. Blood tests may show hypokalemia (low potassium), mildly increased liver enzymes, and acidosis.

Fanconi’s syndrome is a progressive disease, which, if not treated, ultimately results in Dried-Rat-Jerky-Chinatransport system failure to the point where solute losses are significant enough to overwhelm other compensatory mechanisms and the dog can no longer maintain homeostasis. The most significant of these is the loss of bicarbonate (HCO3). Proximal renal tubular acidosis subsequently develops and, if left uncorrected, will ultimately lead to death.

What the Experts are Saying About the Nasty Treats

  • Several cases in Canada have been reported to the CVMA and they have notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
  • The FDA has been made aware of the cases in Canada and their resemblance to the earlier cases in the U.S.
  • Based on very preliminary information, it appears that this problem is more likely to occur in small-breed dogs that are fed these treats regularly and/or in amounts exceeding the label-recommended frequency or amount.
  • Dogs affected with this syndrome usually have a history of vomiting, lethargy and anorexia. A review by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine of the 2007 cases stated that blood chemistry in many cases revealed hypokalemia and a mild increase in liver enzymes. Blood gas analysis indicated acidosis, and glucosuria and granular casts may be seen. Fanconi screens on urine were positive. At the time, the ACVIM recommended treatment consisting of supportive care, electrolyte supplementation (including potassium supplementation) and blood gas monitoring.
  • No recalls have been issued for any chicken jerky treat product (not surprising. And don’t expect one either).

I dunt know nuthing, I jus work here

  • The brand(s) of chicken jerky treats that may be affected by this alert is unknown. The treats may involve flavors or meats other than chicken. The treats may also be sold as strips, tenders, chews, bites, pulls, sticks or whatever name they usually give that crap.
  • The cause (contaminant, toxin or otherwise) of the problem and the exact mechanism by which it causes the illness (they have a pretty good idea, they’re just not talking, yet), is unknown.
  • Whether or not the current situation is limited to Canada or is also occurring in the U.S. and if it is occurring in the U.S., if it is a recurrence or if the problem has been going on (but potentially unrecognized) since 2007.
  • The toxic treats may not indicate on the package they were “Made in China”. If the imported product or ingredient undergoes any substantive changes after it is in the USA, the manufacturer is not required to label the actual country of origin on the package.

So, Just What the Hell Do I Do Now?

  • Veterinarians who suspect a pet illness associated with the consumption of chicken jerky treats should report the case to the FDA. Canadian veterinarians should report cases to CVMA Member Services unless directed otherwise by the CVMA.
  • For more information about diagnosing and treating the condition, please refer to the ACVIM’s recommendations, which will be updated as needed.
  • If a dog presents with a history of vomiting, lethargy and anorexia, coupled with a history of consumption of chicken jerky treats, the following tests may be indicated to indicate Fanconi syndrome-like disease: complete blood chemistry, blood gas analysis and urinalysis. A review by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine of the 2007 cases stated that blood chemistry in many cases revealed hypokalemia and a mild increase in liver enzymes. Blood gas analysis indicated acidosis, and urinalysis consistently showed glucosuria and granular casts. Fanconi screens on urine were positive.
  • During the 2007 cases, the ACVIM recommended treatment consisting of supportive care, electrolyte supplementation (including liberal potassium supplementation) and blood gas monitoring.

Common Sense for Dummies

  • It is up to you to decide whether or not you will feed your dog chicken jerky treats. If you choose to do so, we recommend that you feed them in small quantities and only on occasion. This is especially important for small-breed dogs. (Personally, I wouldn’t touch the crap with a ten-foot pole)
  • If your pet is vomiting, lethargic, or does not want to eat, consult your veterinarian, especially if there is a history of chicken jerky treat consumption. If your pet is showing these signs, it does not necessarily mean that your pet has been made ill by chicken jerky treats (don’t take any chances, don’t walk – run to the vet ASAP) – your veterinarian will likely need to perform tests to determine the cause of the problem.
  • If your pet becomes ill and you and/or your veterinarian suspect the illness may be associated with the consumption of chicken jerky treats, discontinue feeding the treats and save the treats and packaging (storing them out of your pet’s reach and in a place where a family member will not mistakenly feed them to your pet) in case they are needed for testing.

Mollie’s Crazy Cat Lady Activist Advice

  • Call the FDA and tell them to get their shit together. Not that it will do any good, but they still need to know, never-the-less. Report a problem here.
  • Call the store you bought the crap from and give ’em Hell.
  • Call the store’s HQ and tell them you are going to boycott their store, tell everybody and his brother they suck, start an I hate _____ big box pet store Facebook campaign, write about it in your blog, picket the store, e-mail the store, go to their FB and Twitter pages and tell them they suck (just be sure to unlike yourself afterwards)
  • Call & e-mail the manufacturer and give them a piece-o-yer-mind, that you’ve hired a lawyer and are going to bankrupt them for making your dog sick. Do not let the customer service person bullshit you – ask to speak to senior management or you’re gonna keep calling till Doomsday or until Hell freezes over, which ever comes first. Hopefully they speak enough English to understand you.


I Wanna Know More, Dangit!

Dog Treat Warning Snopes report: Yup, it’s TRUE (Snopes)

Remain vigilant for illness linked to chicken jerky treat consumption (ACVIM)

Fanconi Syndrome in Dogs (

Jerky Treats Imported from China Reportedly Causing Kidney Failure in Dogs (DogAware)

How Dog Jerky is Made in China (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

Canadian VMA Cautions About Chicken Jerkey Treats (June 2011)

FDA Continues To Receive Complaints about Chicken Jerky Products for Dogs and Cautions Consumers (FDA December 2008)


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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.

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