Ask Dr. Chris

Chicken and Duck Jerky Treat Toxicity: Government Letting Us Down Again

In today’s column, I need to share some updated information that could prevent you from unknowingly poisoning your own dog.

There has been a lot of talk on the internet, Facebook and the Dogington Post about the lack of action by the government in protecting our dogs from contaminated jerky treats from China.

Now, the USDA has announced that they have stopped annual audits of food safety for foreign countries shipping meats to the United States and will now do these audits every 3 years instead.  This means that they will rely on countries to “self audit” and provide a report to the USDA.  Do you really think the Chinese will “self report” in an accurate manner?  Even more concerning is that they made this change in secret 3 years ago and just announced it in January of 2013! With this change, it will be harder to detect contaminated meats.

If you aren’t familiar with this situation, since 2007, there have been frequent reports of serious dog illnesses and death related to ingestion of chicken and duck jerky treats manufactured in China.

Before I go further, if you have any treats made in China, get rid of them now!

The most common symptoms that have been seen with chicken jerky treat toxicity have been increased drinking and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite and in most cases, damage to the kidneys.  The cause is unknown and has been actively researched by the FDA and other laboratories. Some of the substances found have been numerous types of antibiotics, in levels way above government standards.  These are used to keep the chickens from getting sick in terribly overcrowded conditions.

The difficulty has been getting reliable, complete information.  Some of the reports to the FDA have even gone so far as to blame a dog dying after being hit by a car on the chicken jerky treats.

If your dog has been eating chicken jerky treats and begins acting sick, it is very important that you save the packaging and have blood and urine tests performed on your precious pup.  By looking for specific changes, this toxicity can be proven and investigated thoroughly.  Some of the common lab test findings are low potassium, protein in the urine, glucose in the urine, increased kidney values as well as several other findings.  Symptoms typically start within 4 days of ingestion.

Your veterinarian should submit answers to a survey found on VIN (Veterinary Information Network) which will be analyzed by experts in toxicology, and then forwarded to the FDA.  Despite the FDA’s statements to the contrary, we can’t rely on the government for protecting our dogs.  With this recent change at USDA, it is clear that protecting people and pets from the hazards of foreign meats is not a top priority.  It is up to each of us to be our dog’s best advocate and watch out for them.

Be sure to tell all your dog-loving friends to buy only American made jerky treats and be sure to stay tuned to the Dogington Post for the most up to date information.

Dr. Chris
America’s Favorite Dog Vet

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8 Comments

8 Comments

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    Aug 13, 2014 at 8:46 am

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  3. theresa

    Feb 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Then how do you know which treats to purchase? My baby loves chicken wrapped anything, where can I get these products from? Dogswell says there made here in the USA. Do I trust them? Is there a way to find out which companies are telling the honest truth? Please help.

  4. Mollie Morrissette

    Feb 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Unfortunately, the USDA never has never had anything to do with imported chicken from China. The USDA currently bans the import of chicken from China for human consumption.

    But the FDA says – no problem!

    That is precisely how the Chinese got around the USDA ban on chicken from China. In 2000 it went from 0 to 96 million lbs of “meat” imported from China in 2012(via the FDA).

    Where did it ALL go?

    To pets, of course!

    Don’t forget – it’s not just chicken but duck, and pork meat can be from China as well.

    And never, ever rely on the “Made in the USA” claim – US importers are legally allowed to lie. Don’t believe me? Look up COOL laws. Made in the USA is meaningless.

  5. Kim

    Feb 7, 2013 at 1:13 am

    I’d buy my pets food and treats made in the USA more if they weren’t outrageously overpriced.

    Let’s be honest, I don’t even have enough money to buy human food made in this country.

  6. J. Higgerson

    Feb 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you so much for giving us this info. I DID feed these jerky treats to my little shitsu…BUT NO MORE..

    THANKS SO SO MUCH

  7. Melanie Seago

    Feb 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I buy nothing for my dogs unless it is made here in the USA. After reading several months ago about the damage caused by treats made in China, I thought there would be an outpouring of information about these very harmful pet products. I would love to see some sort of in-depth report on this by the AKC or some other reputable organization. Where are you, Anderson Cooper?

  8. Susan

    Feb 5, 2013 at 7:59 am

    This comes as no surprise to me….It’s all about money with the government. I used to feed these products to my 3 dogs, in which they loved more then anything. It’s too bad that they can’t be trusted!!

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