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tastes like trouble: a warning on chicken jerky treats

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently issued an alert regarding chicken jerky products imported from China. This year alone there have been 70 reports of dogs who became ill or died after consuming chicken jerky treats.

This is not the first time that the FDA has warned pet owners against feeding chicken jerky treats. The first warning came in 2008, after 156 dogs became ill the previous year from the treats. The number of affected dogs dwindled over the next two years, but has increased again recently, leading to the most recent warning.

Though animal health diagnostic laboratories are investigating why the treats are causing illness, they have yet to determine an exact cause. No recall has been issued, and the FDA is not specifying any particular brand name of offending treats.

I think it’s safe to say that for now, you should avoid feeding chicken jerky snacks, especially those that are imported from China. If you have already been feeding the snacks, don’t despair. Keep an eye on your dog for the following signs, which can develop hours or days after ingestion:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased activity
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
  • Increased water intake
  • Increased urination

The treats are dangerous because they are associated with reports of kidney failure and Fanconi-like syndrome in dogs. Fanconi syndrome is a disorder of the kidneys whereby substances normally absorbed in the renal tubules are instead released into the urine. This can show on a routine urinalysis when the glucose level in the urine is elevated, despite normal blood glucose levels.

With supportive care and hospitalization, some dogs recover fully from these episodes, but unfortunately, some dogs have died from ingesting chicken jerky treats. Err on the side of caution here and stick to some other kind of treat for now.
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Posted by Virginia Weddington
on October 22 2013 18:44

Most of those treats are made in China. I would not, ever, feed my dog anything made in China.

Posted by Laurie Randall
on April 03 2012 13:17

I heard about this just a week or so ago from my Vet's page on facebook. Why is this not in the news as much as pink slime. I called and got a refund on my Mllo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky. I can't understand why they would pay the price to buy overseas when there are plenty of chickens here. Crazy?

Posted by Shirley Rodrigues
on January 13 2012 08:31

Thanks so much for highlighting the health aspect of imported treats. My doggie is my first pet, and I just loved giving him treats. I had been advised to look carefully at all labels on treat products to determine the product's orgin. I buy only treats that originate from the U.S. I admit that reading all the labels is time-consuming, and that many, many treats are imported from China; but I value my pet and his good health, so I purchase only treats "made in U.S.". All pet owners should act accordingly.

Posted by Stacy
on January 05 2012 05:45

Does this apply to just chicken treats? I'm wondering because I bought duck jerky at PetSmart a few weeks ago and never thought about it until I read this blog. My dog has been having a little bit of "the runs" but I never connected the two, thinking that jerky was healthy for him ... guess that will be going in the trash!

Posted by Petplan admin
on January 04 2012 09:28

Hi Scott, Thanks for your comment. I don’t believe there’s a list of sorts available that mentions which brands in particular use Chinese ingredients but suffice to say it is many. Your best bet is to contact the manufacturer of your pet’s food directly to see where their ingredients are sourced.

Posted by Scott Ray
on January 03 2012 21:12

Whats brands of dog/cat food are imported from China? I can't find any info on it.

Posted by Joseph Alletto, RN, MSN, NP
on January 03 2012 19:05

Is the symptom constillation associated with ingestion of "tainted" treats similar to those seen with the tainted dog food imported from China about 3 years ago?

Posted by Thomas B. Klis
on January 03 2012 15:36

I read this article with interest. I had quit feeding my dog commercial chicken jerky (Bought at Wal-Mart), when I had read another article, somewhere. Indeed....they were manufactured in China. I do feed her chicken jerky, but, I make my own, using chicken breasts (either Tyson, or Holly Farms skinless, boneless breasts.). I use a dehydrator to dry the meat, and keep it in a zip-lock bag; in the refrigerator. Do you see any problems? I only give her, what I would eat, for treats.

Posted by Robert Autery
on January 03 2012 09:01

I appreciate the notice about these chicken treats. We have been giving both of our dogs these treats (made in China)for about a year and had no idea there was any issue with them. We will quit giving them the treats immediately. I am concerned that this was first an issue 3-4 years ago and we are just now hearing about this. Also since the FDA issued an alert November 18th, why did Pet Plan wait so long to send it out on their news letter. More timely information concerning our pets would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by TriPom Chews
on December 13 2011 15:37

I just worked a craft show over Thanksgiving weekend for TriPom Chews, an American Made Chicken Jerky. I had flyers about the recent 2011 FDA warning about Chinese chicken treats and was giving them out and educating anyone I could stop who answered "yes" to the question, "do you have a dog or cat?" A groomer I spoke with that weekend told me that she had a client whose dog just passed away from Chinese chicken. My dogs are my children, truly. I can only imagine how devastating that was for that family... As an aside, pet insurance is a great investment. Xena, our littlest (6 pounder), ruptured a disc in her neck and our pet insurance covered about 60%!!rxvqj

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