FDA warns pet owners of dangerous jerky treats

FDA warns pet owners of dangerous jerky treats

By Laura Kittell. CREATED Oct 23, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct 23, 2013

WASHINGTON (KGUN9-TV) - The Food and Drug Administration is asking dog and cat owners to report any problems their pets have had after eating jerky pet treats.

In a notice to consumers and veterinarians published Tuesday, the agency said it has linked illnesses from jerky treats to 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007. About 580 of those pets have died.

The treats are sold as "jerky tenders or strips and are made with chicken, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit, and in combinations of these ingredients" according to a description on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

The FDA says its Center for Veterinary Medicine has run more than 1,200 tests, visited pet treat manufacturing plants in China and worked with researchers, state labs and foreign governments but still hasn't determined the cause of the pet illness.

The FDA says pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea among other symptoms within hours of eating the jerky treats.

In a letter addressing U.S. licensed veterinarians, the FDA lists what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the treats. In some cases, veterinarians will be asked to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from their patients for further analysis. FDA will request written permission from pet owners and will cover the costs, including shipping, of any tests it requests.

A consumer fact sheet is available, to help alert consumers to the problem and remind them that treats are not essential to a balanced diet.