Vets in the UK warn: Jerky treats from China are dangerous, cause kidney problems in dogs

A highly respected veterinary association in the UK, is warning pet parents in Europe about what pet parents in the US have known about for years: That imported jerky treats are dangerous and can cause kidney dysfunction in dogs.

The warning, from the veterinary association, Animal Health Trust, cautions:


Vets across the UK have reported seeing an increased number of dogs presenting with kidney problems which may be linked to the ingestion of imported dried jerky treats.

The dogs have shown a decreased appetite, increased thirst and increased need to urinate. Many of these dogs had been fed dried jerky type dog treats, specifically chicken or duck. While a cause is unknown, all the treats were identified as originating from China.”

Mellora Sharman, Internal Medicine Clinician at the Animal Health Trust, adds:

“If you are in any doubt about feeding jerky treats to your dog, double check the country of origin on the packaging. The important thing is that most dogs respond well if the treats are removed from their diet…”

I would also caution, that while jerky treats originating from China are to be avoided, it may be difficult for pet parents to assess whether the treats are dangerous based solely on the labeling. Country of origin on the jerky treat packaging can be misleading and may be further complicated if the packaging only list the distributor and not the manufacturer of the treats.

Additionally, treats with a “Made in the USA” (or “Made in the UK” for that matter) labels do not offer any assurance that they do not contain ingredients from China. Vets in the US are reporting the same serious health problems in dogs that are fed jerky treats labeled “Made in the USA.”

The warning continues:

“This syndrome has previously been reported in Australia and the USA, as well as in smaller numbers in the UK and Europe, in association with the ingestion of dried jerky treats. Currently, no specific toxin has been identified as the cause.”

Although no conclusive evidence supports any one cause for the disease, my theory is, that it is a result of a hypersensitivity to sulfonamides (the class of antibiotics commonly used in poultry rearing in China), the antibiotics found to be in treats imported from China.

A subset of canines (estimated to be 3-5% of the population) have been shown to have a severe allergy (hypersensitivity) to sulfonamides, which can lead to a symptom called acquired Fanconi Syndrome. If treated early, there is a specific treatment for the disease, known as the Gonto Protocol, that vets in the UK should familiarize themselves with in the treatment of dogs diagnosed with acquired Fanconi Syndrome.

The warning continues with a list of clinical signs associated with the imported jerky treats, ones that are virtually identical to the ones reported by vets in the US:

“The clinical signs (tiredness, decreased appetite, increased thirst, and increased need to urinate) are vague and non-specific but blood and urine testing are indicative of a rare kidney disorder, and include a higher than normal glucose level in the urine, together with a normal blood glucose level. Other possible causes for the presence of glucose in the urine, such as diabetes, kidney infections or leptospirosis were excluded.”

The report does not list acquired Fanconi Syndrome as a diagnosis, although it is suggestive considering the clinical signs presented in dogs in the US, which were diagnosed with Fanconi, that it is the same disease vets are now seeing in the UK.

The report adds:

“This problem has been reported previously in America and Australia since 2007, as well as in the UK. It’s impossible to say what the cause of the syndrome is at this stage, as nothing has been proven yet. Several possible causes have been explored, such as the presence of salmonella, pesticides, glycerin, antivirals and level of irradiation in the treats, but none of these have been confirmed to be linked to the illness in dogs so far.”

More information on this syndrome and the steps taken so far to investigate the cause can be found on the US Food and Drug Administration website:

Read more about it: Health warning from vets in UK: “jerky treats” for dogs can be dangerous

P.S. – Why a picture of the Queen with her Corgis you may ask? As any red-blooded American woman would say: Because Daniel Craig is in the picture!

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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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