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The Chinese Jerky Treat Toxicity – What is this all about?

A very hot topic in the veterinary world is the reported toxicity caused by jerky treats manufactured in China.  While no one has been able to prove the link between these treats and the cause of illness, dogs (and some cats) have been showing clinical signs of gastroenteritis and kidney disease, specifically a condition called Fanconi Syndrome.  Fanconi Syndrome is a disease where the proximal tubules in the kidneys aren’t functioning properly and glucose and other substances in the body are lost through the kidneys.

The FDA has been investigating this issue for many years, although it has gained media attention just recently as the number of reported deaths continues to rise.   Approximately 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have been reportedly affected since 2007; Over 500 of these pets have died.  The jerky treats have been evaluated for residues and toxins although nothing definitive has been detected to explain the reported clinical signs.  It is therefore impossible to predict which treats are affected and which dogs will develop clinical disease.  Over 1200 different jerky pet treat samples have been tested and many different companies have been named as culprits, but once again there is no definitive link to any of them.

In January 2013 a number of jerky treats were removed from the market due to the detection of up to six drugs in the treats that, although at low levels and unlikely to cause illness, were not supposed to be present.  Many other companies have placed voluntary recalls for their treats in wake of the uproar.  These recalls are voluntary – don’t assume that just because your dog ate some of these treats he or she is doomed.  Thankfully, many companies are willing to temporarily take their product off of the market to allow for the necessary research to help determine the cause of this issue.

If you are worried that your dog may be affected by Chinese Jerky Treats please don’t hesitate to contact us or the FDA.  A simple urine test (urinalysis) will be able to show if your pet has Fanconi Syndrome.  In all honesty though, if your pet is not showing any change in clinical signs you shouldn’t worry.  Just try to avoid jerky treats manufactured in China moving forward if possible until this ordeal is worked out.