FDA urges caution with chicken jerky treats

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeing an increase in the number of complaints about dog illnesses associated with consumption of chicken jerky products imported from China.

In a warning posted Nov. 18, the FDA warns consumers that chicken jerky products for dogs in chicken tenders, strips or treats, could cause illnesses in dogs.

In September 2007, the FDA issued a cautionary warning about chicken jerky products followed by a Preliminary Animal Health Notification in December 2008. The FDA reports that the number of complaints dropped off near the end of 2009 and continued to decrease throughout 2010. In the last 12 months, however, the FDA says it is seeing complaints rise once again.

The FDA advises consumers to watch their dogs closely for symptoms of illness after feeding them chicken jerky products. The symptoms may occur anywhere within hours to days after feeding the dog the product.

Consumers and veterinarians should watch closely for the following symptoms:

· Decreased appetite

· Decreased activity

· Vomiting

· Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)

· Increased water consumption

· Increased urination

The FDA is recommending that pet owners consult their veterinarian if these symptoms are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.

Many reports to the FDA have shown that blood tests could indicate kidney failure, and that urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Some reports have also involved dogs that died.

FDA scientists have been unable to determine the cause of the illness, and have failed to identify a contaminant despite chemical and microbial testing.

Veterinarians and pet owners can report cases of animal illness associated with chicken jerky products to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state, or report a pet food complaint online.

NEWStat Legislation & regulation