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Nutrition Nuggets
Your dog's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your dog, how much food to feed, and the differences in dog foods, so your dog gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.

FDA Issues Another Update on Jerky Pet Treats

June 06, 2014 / (13) comments

We’ve been following the saga of pet illnesses associated with jerky treats made in China for years now, and I have to say that the latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) update is the most concerning yet. It states, in part:


As of May 1, 2014, we have received in total more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths. The breakdown of symptoms associated with the cases is similar to that of earlier reports: approximately 60 percent of the cases report gastrointestinal/liver disease, 30 percent kidney or urinary disease, with the remaining 10 percent of complaints including various other signs such as neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms. About 15 percent of the kidney or urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has been associated with this investigation.


According to NBC News:


The humans who consumed the treats included two toddlers who ingested them accidentally and an adult who may have been snacking on the questionable products….


One of the children was diagnosed with a salmonella infection, which can be spread by touching contaminated pet food and treats. The other child developed gastrointestinal illness and fever that mirrored the symptoms of dogs in the house that also ate the treats. The adult reported nausea and headache, said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.


Unfortunately, we don’t seem any closer in determining the cause(s) of all of these illnesses and deaths. The FDA has had the opportunity to perform necropsies (the animal equivalent of autopsies) on 26 dogs who were thought to have died as a result of exposure to jerky treats. Thirteen of these dogs died of unrelated health problems, including “widespread cancer, Cushing’s disease, mushroom toxicity, abscess, or internal bleeding secondary to trauma.” However, eleven dogs had “indications of kidney disease and two involved gastrointestinal disease” that could have been be associated with eating jerky treats.


You may have also heard that laboratory testing recently revealed the presence of the drug amantadine in some suspect jerky treats. Amantadine is an antiviral drug that also has pain relieving properties. It has been safely used for years in many species, including dogs, so I doubt that it has had anything to do with these illnesses, but its presence in pet treats raises further questions about the quality control measures employed by Chinese manufacturers.


Within days of the FDA’s most recent announcement, two major pet retailers announced that over the course of the next few months, they would join others and stop selling jerky treats made in China. This is good news, as a surprising percentage of pet owners are still unaware of the illnesses and deaths that have been linked to these products. For the sake of all our dogs, cats, and toddlers, please spread the word.


Dr. Jennifer Coates


Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock


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Comments  13

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  • It's about time!
    06/06/2014 09:08am

    I can't believe it has taken this long for them to remove these products from their shelves. The FDA should make it mandatory! I'm sure they would if it were human lives being affected. I just don't use any jerky treats anymore because you really don't know where the ingredients come from even though they are made in the USA.

  • My Auzzie Had Seizures
    06/06/2014 09:58am

    My Auzzie suffered Seizures that were so bad we had to put her down this past week . She was only 3 yrs old. There was nothing in her blood nor were there any signs on her brain scan to show why she had seizures so it had to be the jerky treats. She was the only one of my 4 kids that got them because my other kids don't do well on chicken. What am I supposed to think? I wish I could sue the dam company! My poor furbaby!

  • 06/08/2014 09:27am

    So sorry about your baby.
    I am a co founder of Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China and a victim of Nestle Purina's Waggin Train chicken jerky. My Bella died 11/21/11 after consuming the jerky. I am a plaintiff in the class action lawsuit against Nestle Purina that has been settled on 5/30/14.
    We are looking for new victims such as yourself to have your jerky tested no matter what brand it is. If by chance you have any of your jerky left and vet records please contact me and I can direct you as to where to send it to for testing. Please remember you do not need proof that it was the jerky, it just needs to be suspect.
    Again, I am so sorry that you have to go through this.

  • 06/10/2014 04:20pm

    Did you get my replay? I wasn't too sure on how to do this at first when I received your email so I thought ZI would check and see if you got my reply.

  • 06/10/2014 04:23pm

    P.S> I would love to be added to the suit agains the jerky company that did this to my furbaby.!

  • 06/12/2014 11:35pm

    Still waiting to her from you :)

  • 06/22/2014 09:13pm

    My Bichon Frise just LOVED those chicken jerky strips that I finally realized were from China!! I stopped giving her those about 2 years ago and kept looking for a good replacement. Around January 4014 I found a jerky brand from [i]Pure Ocean Botanicals/The Sakura Tree [/i]from Petaluma, Calif (made in USA), also a month later found a brand from [i]AmericanPetFoodCompany[/i] from Williamsburg, KY--they're called "dog gone chicken wraps". Cami LOVES both of these treats. I hope to God these are safe, good ones. Cami's liver enzyme count has gone up during the last few months...as of last Thursday's blood re-check it was at 404. Her Vet wants to do another round of Amoxicillan 100MG for a month before her annual dental cleaning. I'm extremely concerned about Cami at this point!!!

  • FDA
    06/16/2014 06:37pm

    What fascinates me is why anyone is still purchasing jerky treats. We wouldn't have to wait for the FDA to ban them if no one bought them. If sales were zero, I have no doubt that the stores wouldn't carry them any more.

  • Thank You
    06/16/2014 09:45pm

    Thank you so much for writing about this. Personally, I haven't heard about these recalls. Thank you so much for writing about these issues and illnesses. I have two dogs, and I can't imagine them becoming sick because of treats. It is amazing to me that this many cases have been reported and nothing major has been thus far. I have less and less faith in manufactured dog food.

  • Buy North American!
    06/26/2014 12:03am

    Buy American or Canadian products. There is too much at risk with our pets. Even chinese people are worried about their standards. Industrial wastewater is used to irrigate crops sometimes, and it's possible that sewage is used to fertilize crops. Your pet's body is small and may not be able to handle the toxins in there.

  • Recall of Jerky Treats.
    06/30/2014 05:21pm

    Can anyone give out the information necessary to test the treats or what needs to be done. My dog has serious liver disease contracting withing the last month or two and has eaten Trader Joes Chicken recipe jerky sticks. Thank you.

  • 06/30/2014 09:49pm

    The following page has the information you need (towards the bottom).


  • 07/10/2014 06:42pm

    Can anyone recommend a treat their dog likes that is not a natural treat? Katie does not like the all natural treats. Any suggestions? Thanks.




Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.

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