Why Are Jerky Treats For Dogs Dangerous?
Considered "Products Of Interest" But Proof Evades
In 2007 (the year of that big pet food recall) a lot of pet owners complained to the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) about dogs getting sick from jerky treats.
Also marketed as tenders, strips or treats, most of the complaints have been about chicken jerky produced in China, but the FDA also reports complaints coming in about duck, sweet potato and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes or yams.
Complaints dropped off in 2009, but in 2011 they rose again. In March, 2012 FDA renewed its caution, even though they haven’t been able to find a link to the complaints of sickness and jerky treats from China.
We’re not the only ones investigating the situation, either. I learned that, down under, the University of Sydney is also investigating the connection between reports of illness in Australian dogs and their having eaten chicken jerky.
One Australian firm recalled their chicken jerky product and the recall notification stated the product was, surprise surprise, manufactured in China.
The cause of the illness remains a mystery and the FDA acknowledges that many of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky.
Also, since no contaminant has been found, they’re limited in what regulatory action they can take.
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The Search for the Missing Link
The FDA isn’t just asking questions; they’re working hard to get to the bottom of this, but so far have come up empty.
For one thing, they’re working with the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network and other animal health diagnostic laboratories in testing for chemical and microbiological contaminants.
Samples tested in March, 20012 for toxic metals, including heavy metals, came back negative. Another dead end.
The agency has expanded its testing to include irradiation by-products, but so far, nothing. Another dead end.
They’re even looking to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for assistance. Hell, NASA has plenty of time now to investigate contaminated pet treats since the Obama Administration has effectively neutered it.
FDA has reached out to other countries that might have had reports of contaminated jerky treats, and have gotten some feedback, but apparently nothing that’s particularly helpful. Another dead end.
In the spring of 2012 FDA officials went on a road trip to the land of The Great Wall.
They inspected 5 plants in China hoping to learn more about the manufacturing processes used to make the jerky pet treats.
One plant did falsify receiving documents for glycerin, which is an ingredient in most jerky pet treats.
Otherwise the FDA found no other information to further explain the pet illnesses. Another dead end.
Oh, here’s some news. The Chinese government did seize products and did suspend exports at the firm that falsified its reports.
Call me a cynic, but I don’t draw a lot of comfort from that.
So, the search goes on. Meanwhile, FDA is advising pet owners who choose to feed chicken jerky products to their dogs to watch closely for decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood), increased thirst and/or increased urination. You should contact your veterinarian if the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours. You might also keep in mind that those symptoms can be indicative of a number of illnesses.
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