Although this is the season when pet owners provide stocking stuffers and treats for their four-legged family members, the Pima County Health Department is hoping to raise awareness about the potential dangers of pet jerky treats.
After consultation with the Pima County Board of Health, as well as the Pima Animal Care Center Advisory Committee, the Health Department would like to remind pet owners that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received reports of more than 3,600 dogs and 10 cats becoming ill after eating jerky pet treats. Nearly 600 of those pets did not recover.
The Health Department knows of only one complaint locally, stemming from a case in October 2013 involving the death of a Golden Retriever that may have been sickened after eating a jerky treat.
The vast majority of the treats in question take the form of jerky tenders or strips and are made with chicken, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit and combinations of those ingredients.
The FDA’s investigation into jerky treats and potential associated hazards dates back to 2007, with researchers testing the treats for contaminants and poring over lab results.
The Agency has no definitive answer on why pets are getting sick, but has asked pet owners and veterinarians for assistance. Signs to watch out for include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or other symptoms of gastrointestinal distress.
Pet owners and veterinarians treating animals that may have become ill after eating these treats are asked to report the cases to https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov. Any unused portion of jerky treats involved in such cases such cases should be held in their original container for 60 days in a sealed plastic bag in case the FDA seeks samples for testing.
Treats are not necessarily part of a fully balanced diet so eliminating jerky treats will not harm pets. For more information, please visit http://www.fda.gov/downloads/NewsEvents/Newsroom/FactSheets/UCM371715.pdf