When we think of food poisoning we always associate it with human infections, we never consider that our pets may also be at risk. At the moment there is a food poisoning outbreak involving dogs taking place in the USA related to Chinese jerky dog treats. Sadly 580 dogs have died and 3600 have been sickened by the problematic treat.
According to the American FDA, the problem dates back to 2007 when owners started reporting their dogs exhibiting symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea as well as a decrease in appetite and lethargy. It was then discovered that the dogs had something in common, they had all eaten various brand name jerky treats, all manufactured in China.
The FDA has conducted more than 1200 tests on various brand name treats originating in China but the tests did not reveal any clear cause of illness. Inspectors were sent to China to try to locate the source of the problem and investigate several jerky treat factories personally.
Agents from the FDA tested for microbial contaminants, antibiotics, metals and pesticides but no significant progress was made.
According to an article on FoodSafetyNews.com a director from the FDA had this to say,
“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” said Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a news release. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”
FDA is now asking pet owners and veterinarians to assist in the investigation by reporting any complaints linked to pet food.
In an open letter to veterinarians, the agency has requested samples and information regarding potential illnesses related to the treats be submitted to FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a network of diagnostic laboratories. The agency has also asked vets to distribute jerky treat fact sheets to pet owners and report any observations of pet illnesses related to jerky treats.
In addition to many animals dying some suffered terribly before they died with symptoms like intestinal bleeding and kidney failure reported. The post on FoodSafetyNews.com goes on to explain:
In some cases, reports have said dogs fell ill within hours of eating the treats. Other customers have said their dogs have eaten the treats for years without any ill effects.
In severe cases, dogs have suffered kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and a rare kidney disorder called Fanconi syndrome. A smaller number of cases involved collapse, convulsions or skin issues.
Earlier this year in the United States a number of jerky treat brands were recalled because of fears that they contained trace amounts of antibiotics not approved in the US.
Dog owners should be cautious when purchasing jerky treats made in China. They are advised to observe their dogs after giving them jerky treats and getting them immediate treatment if they have any symptoms. Also keep the treats which may have caused the sickness so that it can be tested.