Dog illness detected in at 600 dogs due to chicken jerky treats from China

Dave Masko's picture

A new deadly, mysterious illness has been detected in at least 600 dogs in the U.S., stated federal health officials.

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 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

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, 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, 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 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 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 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 “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

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


Submitted by CocoChanels Mom (not verified) on
December 2011 My two year old Shih Tzu CREA levels jumped to 2.2 BADDDDDDDDDD Sad part is I had just given her the jerky treats!!! It was her favorite snack.I pulled her off immediately and have only been giving her fruits and veggies as treats. Her doctor wanted to treat her as if she was in Renal Failure so she put her Science K/D and I mix it with weight management dog food which is lower in protein. So far she is back to nomal levels I pray they stay this way.

Submitted by Nancy (not verified) on
My 7 month old lab had caught kennel cough at daycare and had a seizure. It was then we found out he also had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Going through all the testing exposed kidney issues. I jumped around giving him treats that I can't name them all but they did include "Happy Hips" jerky treats (China). I did also give him dried fish treats and he got alot of a puppy chew called N-Bone puppy teething treats. They have chicken meal in them - not sure where they came from. Anyway after jumping from vet to vet and finally finding one close who we are happy with (one got indignant because I wouldn't consider a transplant) things are going smoothly. He's on k/d and a low dose blood pressure med and , since the beginning, his numbers are slowly improving. One of his kidney values is actually in the normal range (yeah). He never showed any renal failure symptoms but his ultrasound pictures aren't pretty. There's no clear outline to his kidneys - they just look like blobs. At this point, at his age of 1.5 we finally have gotten to the point of only going back for blood tests every 3 months and we'll see how the numbers do each time. Thank God my guardian angel made me buy pet insurance!

Submitted by dog lover (not verified) on
Opened a new bag of these Thursday morning, my dogs were sick by Thursday night. They only get natural dog food and these treats. Started out with diahhrea and would not get better. Tried pepto, rice per my vets instructions. Next came vomiting. Saw the article on this today after 5 days of being ill. Took them off immediately, they are better tonight. I know it was the treats. It's the only thing they've had to eat other than the same bag of food they've been eating for last 4 weeks. Please be careful, these are harmful.

Submitted by al h (not verified) on
The same thing happened to my dog , i know it was the Waggin Train jerky as it wss the only thing he consumed beside his regular food. I filed a complant with FDA for all the good it will do . Nothing made in China ever in this house again . He has recovered but who know the long term effects.

Submitted by TriPom Chews (not verified) on
If you’re looking for SAFE, Real ‘American Made’ chicken jerky for dogs or cats, we started making our own Chicken Jerky for our 3 dogs after we ran across the FDA warning of 2008 about Chinese chicken treats making dogs sick or killing them. It turned into a cottage "Mom & Pop" business and we now sell our TriPom Chews online and in 20 stores in the New England area. Our products are the only homemade, handmade, ‘Maine Made’, ‘American Made’ Chicken Jerky produced from whole, restaurant-quality chicken breasts containing NO Additives and NO Preservatives. Our 3 Pomeranians (our babies!) taste test every batch for quality.

Submitted by jim mcgee (not verified) on
This past fall, i lost 2 miniature dachsaunds within 5 days of each other. Both passed away very quickly. I had been giving them both waggin'tails, chicken breast treats. My vet said these things happen, but the treats didnt enter my mind until I found this article. Thanks so much for making all of us aware of this. Looking back now, to-little-to late, but a reasonable cause of their untimely deaths was attributed to their ages. They seemed fine until one day they became very ill suddenly, and soon were gone. this really hurts to think I may have given them something that may have attributed to their deaths so close together.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Just went out this morning and bought 3 different waggin train treats: 'Ham It Up', 'Chicken Wrapped Yams', & 'Peanut Butter & Chicken Jerky' for my Eskimo Spitz, Puff. I'm gonna throw 'em out for fear of poisoning my baby. And he loves the yams & the ham to death (no pun intended).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
My dog became vey ill and we thought we would lose him after testing and then being hospitalized with near deyhrdration he started getting well. When he was back to his old self I gave him his first Waggin Train Chicken Jerky Treat after being okay for a few days and within the hour the symptons started again and back to the vet we went. Then I found all the info in the internet about these treats and so I called the company they sent me to their claims department who called my vet and asked for test results.They Purina sent them to thier vets who said it was not conclusive and they deined our claim for our vet bills which were over a thousand dollars. Just saw this so I called them and said I want the claim reopened. I am so happy my dog is fine or at least seems fine but I know in my heart it was those treats andi agree they are hiding behind the testing reports they need to do a recall and they need to help people out with these bills. Do Not buy and chicken products I have been reading lables they all come from China.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I hunt every year for Deer, Elk, and other legally hunted edible animals. My rule of thumb is when i'm done with packing the meat for human consumption, the rest is used for the dogs food and or dog treats. I make homemade dog food and treats in my kitchen. I have a dog that is over 16 dog years old, i have to credit alot of her age to mixing wild game meats with store bought dog foods along with garden veggies. I have 3 dogs range in age from 3 to 16 yrs old I have bought dog treats from the store in the past and seen the dogs stool, and dogs health change literally overnight, in particular the treats from China, or from low end manufacturers in the US. You can make homemade dog treats in your own kitchen using left overs from your own foods, there are many recipes online for this, and they are far better then the stuff you buy from the store...


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