By Heather Davis
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an important bulletin warning consumers that chicken jerky products from China (also marketed as chicken tenders, strips or treats) may be associated with serious illness in dogs.
Over the past 12 months, the FDA has observed an increase in the number of complaints regarding canine illnesses associated with consumption of chicken jerky products imported from China. These complaints have been reported to the government by both dog owners and veterinarians.
The FDA had previously issued a cautionary warning regarding chicken jerky products in September 2007 and a Preliminary Animal Health Notification later on in December of 2008. Unfortunately, so far, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses. The FDA continues to conduct extensive chemical and microbial testing but has this far not identified a contaminant.
What to Watch For
The FDA is advising consumers who still choose to feed their dogs imported chicken jerky to monitor their animals closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding these products including:
Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
Increased water consumption
Blood tests may indicate kidney failure and urine tests may show Fanconi syndrome (increased blood sugar). Although most dogs are likely to recover, some deaths have been reported.
What to Do if your Dog Shows Symptoms
If your dog shows any of these signs, the FDA urges consumers to stop feeding the suspected products immediately and consult your veterinarian.
You can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area. Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.
A Healthier Alternative
Be sure to read your pet treat labels carefully! Some treat packaging says "American Owned", but in tiny print you'll find the phrase "Made in China". This misleading marketing is the case with many of the commercial treats found at supermarkets, and I have also been quite shocked to find that even some "holistic" brands in specialty pet stores are also made in China.
Commit to carefull reading all labels, and to treating your pet with only American-made, all-natural jerky such as Kona's Chips or Knoxville-based Doggone Jerky (one of the vendors at our Holiday Marketplace this year). You can also find a variety of safe, healthy and American-made treats at the many locally owned pet supply stores throughout Nashville, including Happy Retales, Wags and Whiskers and See Spot Eat.
A portion of this article is reposted from DogFoodAdvisor.com.
Also, be sure to check out this article on imported dog jerky from MSNBC.com.