Are China’s Pet Food (Jerky Treats) Safe For Your Dogs?

Tainted China-made chicken jerky treats cause kidney disease in hundreds of U.S. dogs

Involved in a massive recall in 2007, when over 8,500 pets in the United States reportedly died from eating them, chicken jerky treats from China have again been under fire in the past few months since November.

The tainted pet food is again implicated in a growing number of dog deaths — and this time, the United States Food and Drug Administration stands accused of foot-dragging on the issue.

Since 2007, the FDA has issued three advisories on the chicken jerky, warning pet owners to be cautious about giving the pet food to their dogs. It issued the first cautionary warning on the chicken jerky products in September 2007, and a new Preliminary Animal Health Notification in December of 2008.

The number of complaints the agency received slumped in late 2009 and for most of 2010. But in November 2011, reports began to resurface and the FDA has since received about 537 complaints about chicken jerky treats — 467 reports late last year and an alarming 184 cases for the first two months of 2012.

In a webpage updated last March 9, the FDA reports receiving a rising number of complaints about dog getting sick — and some dying — after eating dried chicken jerky products imported from China. The chicken jerky isn’t only sold as treats, but as tenders or strips as well.

In its advisory on its website, the FDA lists the signs associated with chicken jerky products as: decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea sometimes with blood, increased thirst and/or increased urination. “These signs may occur within hours to days of feeding the products,” the agency warns.

Lab tests may indicate kidney problems that fall under a new disease called Fanconi-like syndrome, the FDA says, adding, “Although many dogs appear to recover, many reports to the FDA involved dogs that have died.”

Normally, Fanconi syndrome is an inherited kidney disease common in a few North American dog breeds like the Basenji breed. But the new, “acquired Fanconi-like syndrome” that’s been reportedly linked to China-made dried chicken jerky products “is a strange kidney disorder where glucose is found in the dog’s urine even though the dog is not diabetic,” a WebMD article explains.

The health site says, “An unknown component of the chicken jerky treats seems to be damaging the kidneys, causing them to leak not only glucose, but amino acids, protein and electrolytes as well.”

The federal regulator says it continues to investigate the issue and its origin, adding that “some of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky.”