FDA seeks assistance with illnesses caused by jerky treats

Veterinarians and pet owners are being asked to contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to assist with an on-going investigation into suspected contamination of jerky treats. The story on their website "Why are jerky treats making pets sick?" references an investigation that started in 2007, when reports first began to surface linking symptoms of illness to consumption of jerky treats, some of which were manufactured in China. 

"We haven't seen illness associated with jerky treats recently," said Dr. Ed Cooper, associate professor - clinical, and service head for Emergency and Critical Care in the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center. "When concerns about chicken jerky treats first surfaced a year or two ago, we saw a few cases, but nothing recently. We always recommend that pet owners watch their animals for signs of illness and check in with their veterinarian if they have any concerns."

Although none have been seen through Emergency and Critical Care, there have been a few cases in Small Animal Internal Medicine. Dr. Valerie Parker, assistant professor – clinical, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, was recently quoted by the Columbus Dispatch in a story about jerky treats. Dr. Parker specializes in pet nutrition issues. Dr. Parker says, "I recommend to not give your dogs jerky treats until the FDA says they are okay." Read more of Dr. Parker's comments and the Dispatch story here.

Pinpointing a cause of illness can be difficult in cases such as these. There are many non-disease related causes for gastrointestinal distress in dogs. Dogs and cats that are lethargic, with vomiting and diarrhea should be monitored.

"If your pet exhibits signs of illness you should definitely consult your veterinarian, and tell your vet if jerky treats recently were consumed,"  said Dr. Josh Daniels, associate professor and microbiolgist in the College of Veterinary Medicine.