Continued complaints of dogs becoming ill from consuming chicken jerky treats from China prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to release a “frequently asked questions”-style document today.
In Sept. 2007, the FDA issued a cautionary warning about the products to consumers, followed by a “Preliminary Animal Health Notification” in Dec. of 2008. The number of complaints curtailed in the latter part of 2009 and for most of 2010, the agency said, but in 2011, the number of complaints rose again, and the agency issued another cautionary warning. The FDA released the “Questions and Answers Regarding Chicken Jerky Treats from China” document today amid continued complaints about the jerky products, which are also sold as tenders, strips or treats.
The cause of the illnesses is still a mystery, according to the FDA. Product samples are being tested by FDA laboratories, the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network and other animal health diagnostic laboratories for multiple chemical and microbiological contaminants. Samples tested in March for toxic metals, including heavy metals, came back negative.
No products have been recalled to date, and because no contaminate has been detected, the FDA said it is “limited” in what regulatory action it can take.
The FDA reached out to other countries for reports of illness and received some feedback, but did not publish the information.
The agency is advising consumers who choose to feed chicken jerky products to their dogs to watch their pets closely for:
• Decreased appetite;
• Decreased activity;
• Diarrhea, sometimes with blood;
• Increased water consumption; and/or
• Increased urination.
Owners should contact veterinarians if the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, the FDA said. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine), and urine tests may indicate Fanconi-like syndrome (increased glucose).
Cases of animal illness should be reported to the FDA through the owner’s state FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator or electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. Owners should also retain the jerky package and any remaining pieces for possible testing, the FDA said.