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Chicken Jerky and Other Toxic Treats

Chicken Jerky and Other Toxic Treats

As many pet owners will recall, in 2007 there was a large scale pet food recall due to several different pet food lines being made with ingredients from China that contained melamine, a chemical implicated in the cause of kidney failure in multiple dogs and cats across the country.
At the time of the pet food recall, wheat gluten from China had been identified as the source of the high levels of melamine that was the cause of the trouble.

The latest toxicity problems in the pet food industry don't involve pet diets, but pet treats.

For several years the FDA has been posting warnings about feeding any chicken jerky type treats made in China, but recently the reports of problems linked to these treats have been increasing. By the end of May, 2012, the FDA had received over 900 reports of sudden illnesses and deaths from both veterinarians and concerned pet owners since November of 2011. Diarrhea, vomiting, kidney failure and death were all reported in association with chicken jerky strips, treats and nuggets produced in China.

From Time Magazine: The three top brands of chicken jerky treats among those most recently cited in complaints included Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brands, produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Milo's Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. According to the msnbc.com report, Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch are both produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China.

Chicken jerky treats are not the only treats thought to be causing health problems in dogs. Recently dried sweet potato treats, also made in China, have been implicated in illnesses occurring in several dogs. These include kidney problems and in discussions between veterinarians and veterinary boarded specialists on VIN, (the Veterinary Information Network, an online resource for veterinarians with reference materials, access to specialists and continuing education information) there have been reported possible liver issues as well.

Brands associated so far with possible illness include: Beefeaters Sweet Potato Snacks for Dogs, Canyon Creek Ranch Chicken Yam Good Dog Treats (FDA has issued a warning on this product), Dogswell Veggie Life Vitality.

As of August, 2012, reports of health problems with dogs that have ingested other treats such as duck jerky have begun surfacing.

Signs of possible illness in pets who have ingested toxic jerky or treats, occurring within days or even hours of ingestion include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood), increased thirst and increased urination.

From VIN News: While the FDA investigation continues, at least one scientific paper has been published documenting the development of acquired Fanconi syndrome in four dogs exposed to chicken jerky treats in the United States. Appearing in the November/December 2011 edition of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, the case report describes classic Fanconi syndrome in dogs as an inherited disease found in basenjis. (Fanconi syndrome occurs in people, as well.)
"Acquired Fanconi syndrome has been documented sparingly, with reports of only a few patients at a time," the authors state.

The paper reports that documented causes of acquired Fanconi syndrome in dogs are leptospirosis infections; association with certain medications such as antibiotics and chemotherapy; copper storage hepatopathy, a liver condition; and exposure to chemical food additives.

Fanconi syndrome is a disorder in which the proximal renal tubules of the kidney do not properly reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients back into the body, but instead "spill" them in the urine. Symptoms include excessive drinking (polydipsia), excessive urination (polyuria), and glucose in the urine (glucosuria.)

With the list of problem products continually increasing, the questions arises concerning which treats to feed and which not to. Since no one toxin has been isolated that seems to be accounting for the variety of health problems exhibited by dogs, and the common denominator appears to be that problem products are made in China or have ingredients imported from China, the best thing for pet owners to do is to read labels before buying snacks for their pets.

As lengthy discussions continue between veterinarians and specialists across the international community on VIN, the consensus is that currently the safest practice is for owners to avoid pet treats altogether that say on the packaging "Made in China" or indicate that they contain ingredients from China. Many VIN members are simply recommending to their clients that they buy products that say "Made in the USA" to ensure that they are purchasing a safe product.

We all love to feed out pets special treats, so taking an extra minute to read packaging labels seems to be the best advice that we can give our clients.

If you have any concerns that your pet may have been exposed to problems treats, please do not hesitate to call us here at the hospital, 603 742 6438.

Read more:

Science Daily: More on the pet food recall due to melamine:


Time Magazine Online: Chicken jerky implicated in pet illness:


Say No to Pet Treats Made in China:


FDA: Information on Chicken Jerky and other problem treats:

How to Report a Pet Food Complaint:

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