580 Pet Deaths Linked to Jerky Treats, FDA Looking for Cause Since 2007

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October 22, 2013 – The FDA has issued a statement warning about illnesses linked to jerky treats that have killed 580 pets to date. The total number of animals affected is much higher: “As of Sept. 24, 2013, over 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have reportedly become ill from eating jerky pet treats.”

What exactly is causing the illnesses, which have resulted in pancreatitis, kidney failure, a rare kidney disorder called Fanconi syndrome, and gastrointestinal bleeding, remains unclear.

“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” says Bernadette Dunham, head of the FDA vet medicine center.

Ties to Jerky Treats and Ingredients from China

Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China, sparking FDA visits to manufacturing plants in that country. But no new recalls are currently being made. “At this point we don’t have enough evidence to do a blanket recall within the authority that we have,” said Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

What we do know is that of 22 “Priority 1” cases of animal illness listed by the FDA late last year, 13 of them cited Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats, which are produced by Nestle Purina and 3 more list Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats.

(“Priority 1″ cases are those in which the animal is aged 11 or younger and medical records that document the illness are available.)

In January of this year, both were recalled: Nestle recalled Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats and Milo’s Kitchen recalled its Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers Home-style Dog Treats. Both recalls were due to trace amounts of residual antibiotics found in the treats, but the FDA says “it’s unlikely that they caused the illnesses.”

Other jerky treat recalls have been made throughout the year: Publix in JanuaryNutri-Vet in FebruaryDogswell in July, and Joey’s Jerky in September. Most of these recalls were made due to Salmonella contamination.

The FDA is now asking consumers and veterinarians to help by providing any relevant information.

What Should I Do?

  • Keep on the lookout for signs of illness in your pets. The FDA says “signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products are decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination.”
  • Contact your vet right away if you notice these or more severe symptoms
  • The FDA is asking pet owners to hold on to unused portions of the product in its original container for at least 60 days, in case they request samples for testing
  • Report any issues through the Safety Reporting Portal or your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator

Alternative Treats

Looking for pet treats that are sourced and made in the US?

  • Canidae and Bil-Jac are two companies that source ingredients and manufacture in the US.
  • Newman’s Own fish and poultry products are produced domestically.

Read the Consumer Update from the FDA.

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