Federal health officials are urging caution with feeding pets jerky treats from China as the tally of dogs sickened has risen to more than 3,600 dogs with approximately 580 of those dying. Ten cats have also been affected.
The cases have included dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes.
Since the source of the contaminants are yet to be determined, the FDA has not had the legal grounds to pull the products from the shelves. These include chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. Many retailers have voluntarily removed the products, however.
To step up the investigation, federal Food and Drug Administration officials are now seeking extra help from veterinarians and pet owners in solving the ongoing mystery.
“To date, testing for contaminants in jerky treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses,” Martine Hartogensis, a director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in the new report released on Tuesday. “Despite these warnings, we have continued to receive reports of illnesses in both cats and dogs.”
The rate at which the illnesses are being reported seems to be declining after the FDA issued warnings earlier this year; however, “This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” according to Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”
Symptoms after jerky treats
Within hours of eating the treats, symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, increased water consumption and increased urination. Severe cases have involved kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding, according to the FDA report.
Should your pet show similar symptoms after ingesting treats, the agency urges dog owners to consult a veterinarian immediately. Any remaining treats and packaging should be retained for possible testing.
“Our fervent hope as animal lovers is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses,” Dunham said.