Animal & Veterinary

Jerky Pet Treats

dog laying down

The problem

Since 2007, FDA has received reports of illnesses in pets associated with the consumption of jerky pet treats. As of May 1, 2014, FDA has received approximately 4,800 reports of pet illnesses which may be related to consumption of the jerky treats. These include about 1,800 reports received since FDA’s last update in October 2013. The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats, three humans, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths.

What we are doing

FDA is working with laboratories across the country to investigate causes of these illnesses. To date, testing for contaminants in jerky pet treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses.

We have tested for:

  • Salmonella
  • Metals or Elements (such as arsenic, cadmium and lead, etc.)
  • Markers of irradiation level (such as acyclobutanones).
  • Pesticides
  • Antibiotics (including both approved and unapproved sulfanomides and tetracyclines)
  • Antivirals (including amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and others)
  • Mold and mycotoxins (toxins from mold)
  • Rodenticides
  • Nephrotoxins (such as aristolochic acid, maleic acid, paraquat, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, toxic hydrocarbons, melamine, and related triazines)
  • Other chemicals and poisonous compounds (such as endotoxins).

Testing has also included measuring the nutritional composition of jerky pet treats to verify that they contain the ingredients listed on the label and do not contain ingredients that are not listed on the label. Another area of investigation includes the effects of irradiation and its byproducts.

FDA has also had the opportunity to perform necropsies (post-mortem examinations) on dogs suspected of having jerky pet treat-associated illness. We have completed 26 of these as of May 1, 2014. In half the cases, dogs displayed evidence of other diseases, such as widespread cancer, Cushing’s disease, abscess or internal bleeding secondary to trauma. In the remaining 13 dogs, jerky pet treats could not be ruled out as contributing to the illness.

Find out more.

What consumers can do

Watch your pet closely. Signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the jerky treat products are decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination. Severe cases are diagnosed with pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, and kidney failure or the resemblance of a rare kidney related illness called Fanconi syndrome (or “Fanconi-like syndrome”).

If your pet has experienced signs of illness, please report it to FDA. Once a consumer has filed a report with their local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator, or electronically through our safety reporting portal, FDA will determine whether there is a need to conduct a follow-up phone call or obtain a sample of the jerky pet treat product in question. While FDA does not necessarily respond to every individual complaint submitted, each report becomes part of the body of knowledge that helps to inform FDA on the situation or incident.

What veterinarians can do

The “Dear Veterinarian” letter to veterinary professionals explains how they can provide valuable assistance to the agency’s investigation, requests that veterinarians report to FDA any cases of jerky pet treat-related illness that come to their attention and, when requested, that they also provide samples for diagnostic testing by the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a network of veterinary laboratories affiliated with FDA.

Page Last Updated: 06/05/2014
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