Jerky Treats

What You Need to Know About Jerky Treats for Your Dog


by Lorie Huston, DVM on April 19, 2012


You may have already heard that the FDA has sent investigators to China to try to learn more about why China-sourced jerky treats are seemingly making some dogs ill. Here are the facts you need to know.

Continued Concern with Jerky Treats

1.  The FDA is continuing to caution pet owners about potential issues with chicken jerky treats. The most recent announcement issued in November of 2011 is in addition to warnings posted in 2007 and 2008.

2.  The additional warning was issued because of an increase in the number of complaints filed by both dog owners and veterinarians.

3.  After seeing a drop in cases in 2010, more than 70 cases were reported to the FDA in 2011 prior to the issue of the announcement.

4.  Symptoms of illness include: vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Increased water consumption and increased urination are also noted in many cases.

5.  No specific brand has been named, but all complaints have centered on treats obtained from China. (More recently, three major brands have been implicated by some sources.)

6.  Veterinary internists have become aware of an unusual number of dogs with very similar presenting complaints and clinico-pathologic testing results associated with the ingestion of jerky treats from a variety of brands. No cats have been reported to date.

7.  Typically small dogs that present with a history of vomiting, lethargy and anorexia have been affected. They have all consumed jerky treats (mostly chicken jerky) within a few weeks prior to becoming anorexic and the jerky treats make up a large part of their diet. Physical examination has been relatively unremarkable.

8.  In June 2011, the Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association (CVMA) notified CVMA members by email that several veterinarians in Canada had reported dogs with Fanconi-like symptoms that could be associated with the consumption of chicken jerky treats manufactured in China.

9.  Additionally, not all reports involve Fanconi Syndrome. Some pets have severe GI upset and some have renal failure.

10.  Fanconi Syndrome affects the kidneys and alters the normal electrolyte balance, glucose levels, and acid/base levels in the body. This can lead to potentially fatal results.

11.  The good news is that most reported cases have recovered without lasting complications. However, there are reports that a few dogs have died.

12. The FDA has found no causal link between the illnesses and the consumption of chicken jerky products. A thorough dietary history should be obtained in all cases of dogs presenting for acute GI signs or PU/PD.

13.  Melamine, the toxic chemical involved in the 2007 massive pet food recall, has been ruled out as a cause of these illnesses. The FDA is actively investigating the potential cause of this problem.

14.  Until such a time that the causative agent is determined, the AVMA is recommending that consumers use their own judgment as to the use of jerky treats for their dogs.

15.  Chicken jerky treats should be used ONLY as a treat fed occasionally and not as a significant portion of your pet’s diet.

16.  As with any illness, if your pet is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, please contact your family veterinarian for advice and treatment. They are your best source for factual information and are well-equipped to help make sure that your dog will receive the highest level of medical care.

17.  In addition, veterinarians and pet owners should report any suspect cases to the FDA.


FDA announcement: FDA Continues to Caution Dog Owners

This article is posted with the permission of the Pet Health Care Gazette