Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, otherwise known as 2007, a lot of dogs got suspiciously sick or died. Our friends at the FDA got involved and launched an investigation into pet illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky pet treats. Fast-forward to 2013 and there was an update on this investigation that indeed, pets were still getting sick but mysteriously there seemed to be no clear-cut answer as to why. At that time, I offered that it might be easier and certainly safer, for those wanting to feed these types of treats, to make your own. Fast-forward again to May of 2016 and sadly this saga is still on-going. The FDA has once again published a update on creepy chicken treats, which as of October of 2015 also includes, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit, yams and rawhide treats too. You can read the update yourself here, but in short, they basically haven’t nailed down a cause or a source (although products imported from China show up over and over and over again), some US brands have been a problem too. Even the FDA is saying “jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet”. That’s code for why risk feeding these to your beloved pets?! It goes on to say that if you do feed them, you should “consult with your veterinarian if you notice symptoms in your pet such as decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and/or increased urination.” Just sayin…..
There’s good news and bad news here. The FDA, CDC, veterinarians and pet owners are still collaborating to come up with a reason for these mysterious illnesses. Believe me, this investigation is an epic undertaking and there are many challenges to linking illnesses and death with these specific treats, so I say good for them for their commitment to solve this problem. Another good news note is that reported cases have been on the decline over the last few years. I like to think that people are more aware of what they are buying and educating themselves and that’s always a good thing. The bad news is that it’s still happening and even though some products have been pulled from the shelf, they often reappear. More good news? Many stores have pulled jerky treats completely from their shelves for good. The FDA has also established a Safety Reporting Portal where you as a pet owner can relay any illness your pet may suffer after consuming these treats.
For more information, you can visit the Animal and Veterinary Safety and Health section of the FDA’s website or click on this link.
Be safe out there!