Three brands of chicken jerky dog treats are said to be responsible for - a “mysterious illness in at least 600 dogs in the U.S.” - producing a sometimes deadly canine illness, though the extent of its spread is unknown, state federal health officials in numerous media reports March 13. In turn, an MSNBC TV report Tuesday statedthat “federal health officials have turned to consumers to help investigating problems possibly tied to chicken jerky pet treats made in China." Also, a log of complaints collected from pet owners and veterinarians contains references to at least “three popular brands of jerky treats that may be associated with kidney failure and other serious ailments,” according to internal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documents obtained by msnbc.com. In turn, the FDA notes how the extent of the spread of this mystery dog illness is unknown.
Pet products sited and precautions
Also, of 22 “Priority 1” cases listed by the FDA late last year, 13 cited “Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., the records show," reported msnbc.com.
The symptoms of illness as noted at the FDA from the tainted products include; decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination.
Those with concerns or questions should take their dogs to a veterinarian, states the FDA’s website; while noting if blood tests show increased urea nitrogen and creatinine levels it may well be a sign of kidney failure. If urine tests show increased glucose it may be a signal of other illness, stated the FDA.
Also, the FDA shares views on pet illnesses. For instance, it states that owners should look for “any sudden or unusual changes in the behavior pattern of your dog.” In turn, experts say this will help you to understand that it is ill and requires medical attention.
Also, does your dog seem to be quiet, listless and depressed? Is your dog off its food? Does your dog seem disoriented? Has it been losing its balance while getting up or while walking? Has your dog been displaying any unwarranted or uncharacteristic aggression? The FDA states that if the answer is yes to any one of these, it could indicate any kind of physical, hormonal, and neurological disorder, and it is time to go visit the vet.
Dog treats a continuing problem
Moreover, msnbc.com noted how “another three listed Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The rest listed single brands or no brand.”
Since 2007, FDA scientists have analyzed jerky treats for evidence of dangerous toxins, including heavy metals, melamine, melamine analogs and diethylene glycol, chemicals used in plastics and resins.
According to the FDA and the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (VLRN), experts are still actively working on finding an answer to this mystery illness in dogs. Also, the FDA in their warning does note the lack of definitive answers but also states that the treats should remain as treats and not be used as a meal replacement for pets.
FDA sets up priority cases to protect pets
The mystery illness in at least 600 dogs points to the FDA’s methods for identifying safety and pet product recalls.
For instance, msnbc.com noted March 13 that “Priority 1 cases are those in which the animal is aged 11 or younger and medical records that document illness are available, an FDA spokeswoman said. In many cases, samples of the suspect treats also are collected. The report, obtained through a public records request, is the first agency indication of any brands linked to illnesses that have climbed since the FDA warned pet owners about jerky treats in November. That was the FDA's third caution about the pet products since 2007.”
In turn, the owner of a healthy dog named “Sam” said during a March 13 Huliq interview that he would “never give Sam anything but ‘natural’ treats;” while point to a new trend with pet owners to either buy local organic pet treats or to make the treats themselves.
Manufactures say treats safe
The MSNBC TV report also noted that “Nestle Purina and Del Monte officials said their treats are safe and FDA regulators said repeated tests have shown no absolute tie to any brand or manufacturer.”
“No specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined,” FDA officials said in a statement featured on the msnbc.com website; while also pointing to an “internal FDA report” that prompted this investigation in the dog illness.
This internal report - overseen by the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak and Response Evaluation, or CORE, group – “is one of several ongoing assignments in which FDA regulators are seeking jerky treat samples and medical records of dogs that may have developed kidney failure, liver disease or Fanconi syndrome, which can lead to serious illness and death. The recent complaints were filed from October through December by people in cities from California to New York, but the agency will continue to accept them,” added the msnbc.com report.
“We still invite owners and veterinarians to submit complaints and samples,” said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman. “The more information we have, the more likely we can find a link.”
MSNBC stated “the move comes as the FDA is under growing pressure from consumers and lawmakers to address rising numbers of illnesses blamed on the China-made treats.”
For instance, before the warning was issued in November, “the agency had logged 70 reports of illnesses tied to the treats last year. Since then, more than 530 additional complaints of illnesses and some deaths have been filed,” officials said.
Dogs that’ve died due to the treats
“Bella, a 2-year-old pug, died last fall after her owner, Robin Pierre, said she ate Waggin' Trail chicken jerky treats,” reported MSNBC during a March 13 TV report; while also noting how “consumers who say their dogs were sickened or killed have launched at least three petitions demanding recalls of jerky pet treats made in China, including one begun in December that has more than 3,400 signatures from the U.S. and around the world.”
In turn, people have come out against pet products being made in China.
Pet owners worry about China pet treats
“At the slightest doubt, these products should have been recalled, especially knowing there was a link or at the very least a caution/warning label put on the packaging warning the consumers,” said Robin Pierre, a co-founder of “Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China.”
Pierre, 49, of Pine Bush, N.Y., believes Waggin’ Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death last fall of her previously health 2-year-old pug, Bella, who developed kidney failure, added the msnbc.com report.
“The last week of her life was nothing but misery and pain, separated from her family, she died all alone, in a cage, despite the fact that she had a family who loved her,” Pierre wrote in an email to msnbc.com. “She meant the world to me and my family.”
Dogs dying due to suspected treats
Moreover, a 14-year-old family dog named Ginger “sparked one of three petitions after she developed kidney failure possibly tied to chicken jerky pet treats. Her owner, Susan Rhodes, 51, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., wants the treats pulled from the market.”
More than 375 people have signed a petition launched last week by Susan Rhodes, 51, of Port St. Lucie, Fla. She believes her 14-year-old dog, Ginger, may have developed life-threatening kidney failure after eating chicken jerky treats. She was stunned to hear that consumer complaints alone can’t force the FDA - or a company - to recall potentially tainted products.
“That is just unreal. I am not happy with that,” Rhodes said.
For their part, FDA officials said the companies are free to enact a voluntary recall at any time.
Since 2007, MSNBC noted how “FDA scientists have analyzed jerky treats for evidence of dangerous toxins, including heavy metals, melamine, melamine analogs and diethylene glycol, chemicals used in plastics and resins.”
Nestle says its pet treats safe
So far, they’ve found nothing convincing, a point emphasized by Keith Schopp, director of communications for Nestle Purina. He noted that FDA officials also suggest that illnesses may be a result of causes other than eating jerky treats.”
At the same time, Schoop told MSNBC TV that: “Our chicken jerky treats are safe to feed as directed. The safety of our products - and the pets who consume them - are our top priorities.”
The company has a comprehensive food safety program in place, he said, including at manufacturing plants in China.
In turn, Pierre - who lost her dog - said she has little faith in pet food manufacturers - or in the FDA.
“Actions speak louder than words and there has been no action from them up until now,” Pierre said. “Waggin’ Train has hid behind the technicality that the FDA cannot find the link and the FDA has let them.”
Consumers can report illnesses to the FDA’s pet food complaint site at http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ReportaProblem/ucm182403.htm
Image source of a Dog named “Sam” enjoying a walk about in the snow along the Oregon coast March 13. Sam’s owner said he never gives his dog treats that are not organic and locally produced. Photo by Dave Masko