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Jerky Treats Update: FDA Releases New Information and Warning

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Jerky-style dog treats have been a hot topic for the past 7 years, as thousands of pet parents have filed official complaints of severe illness and death after feeding the treats.

Today, the FDA issued an update to their investigation. As of this update, 1,000 dogs have died, 4,800 more have become ill or seriously ill, and new reports indicate that 3 humans have also become ill after consuming the treats.

Despite 7 years of testing and investigation, the FDA is still unable to determine exactly what it is about these chicken, duck, and/or sweet potato jerky-style treats, particularly the ones imported from China, that is killing and sickening pets (and now humans, too – 2 cases were young children that ingested the treats, one case was an adult).

Some products tested were found to contain traces of the antiviral drug amantadine, a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease and influenza in humans. The FDA does not believe this drug is responsible for any of the deaths or illnesses, but warned suppliers that the contaminate may be grounds for banning the sale of these treats in the U.S.

Since their update in October of 2013, the FDA has logged nearly 1,800 new reports from veterinarians and pet parents.

Without locating a cause for deaths and illnesses in the treats, the FDA cannot issue a mandatory recall of the products.

Retailers and manufacturers, however, a free to discontinue selling the products.

Manufacturers maintain that their treats are safe to feed as directed.

The latest FDA information on the Jerky Treat Investigation reads as follows:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is providing an update on its ongoing investigation into pet illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky pet treats. This update includes the latest information about complaints of illnesses, FDA’s collaboration with the CDC on a new case control study, and new findings revealed through the agency’s testing. Unfortunately, FDA has still not been able to identify a specific cause for the reported illnesses or deaths.

  • Case numbers: Since FDA’s last update on October 22, 2013, we have received approximately 1,800 additional case reports. As of May 1, 2014, we have received in total more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths. The breakdown of symptoms associated with the cases is similar to that of earlier reports: approximately 60 percent of the cases report gastrointestinal/liver disease, 30 percent kidney or urinary disease, with the remaining 10 percent of complaints including various other signs such as neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms. About 15 percent of the kidney or urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has been associated with this investigation.
  • Response to Dear Veterinarian Letter: Following an October 2013 request for veterinarians to share case information, the agency received many well-documented case reports that have and continue to provide us with valuable information that is assisting in our ongoing investigation. Out of this effort, FDA has had the opportunity to perform necropsies (post-mortem examinations) on 26 dogs, 13 of which appeared to have causes of death not related to consumption of jerky pet treats. Of the remaining 13 cases, an association with consumption of jerky pet treats could not be ruled out. Eleven of these dogs had indications of kidney disease and two involved gastrointestinal disease.

The agency continues to review case records, test treat samples from reported cases, screen tissue, blood, urinary and fecal samples, and communicate with the attending veterinarians and pet owners to thoroughly investigate select cases. Because of the volume of information received in response to the Dear Veterinarian letter, the agency has not completed an update to our online case spreadsheets. FDA plans to complete and post these updates in the coming months.

  • Partnership with CDC: While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention primarily tracks cases of human illness, FDA has requested their expertise in collaborating on a study of cases reported to the FDA of sick dogs compared with “controls” (dogs who have not been ill). The goal of the study is to compare the foods eaten by the sick dogs (cases) to those eaten by the dogs that did not get sick (controls), in order to determine whether sick dogs are eating more jerky pet treats than healthy dogs are. Data collected during this investigation will allow federal investigators to better understand what is making pets sick. The study is still ongoing, and FDA will share results when they are completed.
  • Testing: Following testing performed by the New York State Department of Markets and Agriculture (NYSDAM) in 2012 that detected low levels of antibiotics in tested jerky pet treats, FDA undertook a project to adapt the NYSDAM method to the equipment in its own field laboratories for regulatory and enforcement purposes. This adaptation is now complete and the method is in use for testing both imported and domestic treats.

Testing of jerky pet treats from China has also revealed the presence of the drug amantadine in some samples containing chicken. These samples were from jerky pet treats that were sold a year or more ago. Amantadine is an antiviral that is FDA-approved for use in people. It has also been used in an extra-label manner (using an approved drug in a way that isn’t listed on the label) in dogs for pain control, but FDA prohibited its use in poultry in 2006.

FDA does not believe that amantadine contributed to the illnesses because the known side effects or adverse events associated with amantadine do not seem to correlate with the symptoms seen in the jerky pet treat-related cases. However, amantadine should not be present at all in jerky pet treats, and the agency has notified the Chinese authorities that the presence of amantadine in these products is an adulterant. Chinese authorities have also assured us that they will perform additional screening and will follow up with jerky pet treat manufacturers. FDA has notified the U.S. companies that market jerky pet treats found positive for amantadine of this finding and are testing both imported and domestic jerky pet treats for amantadine and other antivirals.

The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet, and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians, both prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets.

FDA continues to devote significant resources to this investigation and to work with its Vet-LIRN partners to gather and analyze new information as it becomes available. If your pet has experienced signs of illness that you suspect is related to jerky pet treats, please report it to FDA. While FDA does not necessarily respond to every individual complaint submitted, each report is valuable and becomes part of the body of knowledge that helps to inform our investigation.

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  1. We started feeding these treats to our dog years ago. Soon after, she started having seizures. This went on for years until we could not find them any more. We never connected it to the jerky until then. We noticed that not long after, the seizures stopped. She has not had a seizure since we have stopped giving her that “treat”.

  2. Avatar Of Jewelle



    The best thing to do is make your own jerky treats with a dehydrator. You can buy cookie treats made in USA for crunch and minties and bones to keep teeth clean but its a shame that it take for us all to stop buying the treats before they will recall them. Thats not what they do with human food.

  3. Avatar Of Geri



    What about Purina beggin strips??

    • Avatar Of Janet Newcombe

      Janet Newcombe



  4. Avatar Of Sue



    What I don’t understand is why do dog owners feel they can’t live without giving their dog’s jerky of any kind? Just don’t feed jerky. I use freeze dried beef liver for treats and only that. Our dogs can survive without jerky. I feel that maybe just the process of making jerky could be a problem for some dogs. Why chance it. So what if that is their favorite kind of treat. Use something else. They don’t have the control here, you do!

  5. Avatar Of Jane &Amp; Tom Baetz

    Jane & Tom Baetz


    It isn’t enough to check where the treats are made, they can be made in the USA but ingredients can be coming from out of the country.

  6. Avatar Of Allan



    i now only buy American made treats. its been said several times already, but i’ll say it again. if it doesn’t specifically state “MADE IN THE USA” then pass it by. why risk your pets health to save a few cents because in the long run will it be worth it if you’re having to take your pet to the vet for major illnesses or worst have it put down or die!? my boys are my kids to me and they’re worth whatever i have to do to keep them safe and healthy!!!

    • Avatar Of Michelle



      It does not matter where it is made. Products made in the USA often times contain ingredients that are produced outside the USA. Your answer is sadly, not a solution to this problem.

  7. Avatar Of Bob



    Make your own! It may cost a little more but you know they’re safe. Buy a dehydrator (as little as $30) and a meat slicer ($40 on up). Then, look for sales on chicken breasts and stock up. They slice best when partially frozen. I don’t add anything to them and our dogs LOVE them. A batch keeps well in the fridge and longer in the freezer.

  8. Avatar Of Jessie Matthews

    Jessie Matthews


    Our family had a young dog die of Mesothelioma – the cancer that people get after being exposed to asbestos. Our vet had NEVER seen this type of cancer in a dog. In fact, after sending tissue samples to other vets and research labs, we found out that there have only ever been a tiny handful of cases. Our vet told us that, in his opinion, the cancer was a direct result of feeding dog treats manufactured in China. Now, I read labels VERY carefully. If it doesn’t say MADE in the USA, I don’t buy it. Especially since a dog treat manufacturer may say that they are based in the USA, but not disclose that the treats are actually manufactured in another country – or make it VERY hard to find the information for where the treats were actually made on the package.

    • Avatar Of Lynne W

      Lynne W


      It is also important that the product is SOURCED in the US. I will not feed a product made in the US with imported materials/foods.

  9. Avatar Of Betty Day

    Betty Day


    My dogs hind legs quit working after feeding him the jerkey treats I used to buy at Walmart called Waggin Train, I did not
    believe that it was the treats he loved so much, but after testing ( I would not give them to him for awhile) he got better, then I’d try again and it happened again. I tried 3 times and every time his hind legs would buckle. I read ALL LABELS now. No treats or food from CHINA!!!!!!

  10. Avatar Of Mark



    China treats are cheap but not good. Now the only treats I give my dogs are Krak’ems they are made right here in the USA and they love them !!!

  11. Avatar Of Mia



    As long as people continue to buy these, no store is going to voluntarily remove them from the store shelves. If people really cared about their pets they would heed the warnings and either purchase an American made product or make their own. Yes American made products may cost a little bit more but when it comes to your pets those few cents should be worth it. If this warning were for treats you would give to your children you would not give it to them, why give them to your furkids?

  12. Avatar Of Teresa



    No you can’t trust pet products from China.
    They eat dog meat and make products from the fur of dogs and cats, so why would they care what iingerdients go in to their pet treats?

  13. Avatar Of Louise Thorne

    Louise Thorne


    I never believed in anything on shelves being good. Rawhide they choke on. I give my dog raw or smoked
    Marrow bones he loves them. I buy at Amish market. Grocery stores an meat market. His teeth are white
    It keeps him busy for hours. Treats homemade.

  14. Avatar Of Jamie



    I stopped buying anything imported from China.. and i read labels on the pet treats I feed….

  15. Avatar Of Pam Bradley Pam Bradley says:

    we use to give our dogs those treats but stopped ,we now give Denta Stix and Lambs Ears I know these are for the teeth but they love them .

  16. Avatar Of Teresa Davis

    Teresa Davis


    If someone started a petition to stop the stores from selling them, would it help?

    • Avatar Of Pat Dumond

      Pat Dumond


      No, as long as enough people keep buying them for the stores to make a profit they will keep selling them. People just need to stop buying them.

  17. Avatar Of Debi



    This is insanity! The FDA can’t pinpoint the cause so can’t issue a ban or recall. That’s like shutting the barn door after all the animals have escaped!
    Social media is huge… let’s make this a cause for an explosion! NO ONE needs to lose or have their pets get sick because of our government failing to take action!
    Heck, buy American made or make your own!!!

    • Avatar Of Sonya Turbyfill

      Sonya Turbyfill


      do not buy any treats for my dogs that aren’t made in the USA. It only takes a few seconds more to read to see where the treats come from.

  18. Avatar Of Dale Surrett

    dale surrett


    You can’t trust any pet products from China!

  19. Avatar Of Pam



    I make my own from turkey to avoid this problem. Freeze them and take a bag out and keep in the frig.

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