Chinese Jerky Might Be Killing Your Dog

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fdaPhoto: Via FDA.
Something's rotten in the world's jerky stash. Over the last six years, 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. have been sickened by jerky treats. Approximately 580 of those pets died as a result. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates animal food in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is keen to know what's up. In a consumer bulletin posted this week, the FDA asked that anyone with a pet that became ill after eating jerky get in touch with the agency.

While the FDA hasn't named specific brands, it does note that many of the tainted treats originate in China; though, pet-food manufacturers are not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products. "To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China, and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs, and foreign governments," reads the bulletin. "Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive."

In January, a New York state lab found treats contaminated with up to six drugs. While the levels of drugs were very low, the treats were still removed from the market; the FDA notes, however, that fewer cases of jerky-related illness were reported after they were taken off the market.

The FDA cautions consumers to be mindful of "jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes, and/or dried fruit" and their pets' reactions to them. If your pets exhibit any signs of illness — decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption, increased urination — get in touch with your veterinarian immediately. (FDA)