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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