By Dr. Becker
It seems there's another dog snack from China to worry about: sweet potato treats.
According to the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) 1, vets are now reporting health problems linked to sweet potato treats similar to those related to chicken jerky treats also made in China.
Test results on sick dogs show kidney problems similar to the symptoms of Fanconi syndrome. Most dogs recover, but there have been some deaths related to the chicken jerky treat problem.
Symptoms may show up within hours or days after a treat is eaten and include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination.
If you've fed your dog either chicken jerky treats or sweet potato treats made in China and your pet has fallen ill, I recommend you contact your veterinarian – especially if the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours or are severe.
Pet Treats You May Want to Avoid
The brands allegedly implicated in the sweet potato treat problem are:
- Beefeaters Sweet Potato Snacks for Dogs (16 varieties of yam-related treats)
- Canyon Creek Ranch Chicken Yam Good Dog Treats (Nestlé Purina)
- Dogswell Veggie Life Vitality (4 varieties)
Keep in mind that although the problem treats are often identified as "jerky" treats, they also go by a host of other names, including tenders, strips, chips, wraps, twists, and several others.
Per Poisoned Pets 2, in 2010 the FDA found that a sweet potato dog treat made by a certain company in China was contaminated with phorate, a highly toxic pesticide.
There is speculation there could be problems with pork treats and cat treats imported from China as well.
For more information on why you need to be vigilant about reading pet food labels, making phone calls to manufacturers, and really doing your homework on what you're feeding your dog or cat, read my article Pet Food and China - More Cause for Concern?
If You Feed Your Pet Commercially Prepared Treats …
PLEASE know that if you choose to buy any treat made in China, your pet may be at risk. Chicken jerky treats, chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken treats or sweet potato treats, they can all pose a potential threat. Play it safe. Buy only food and treats made in the U.S. Buying pet food made in this country won't remove all risk of winding up with a tainted product, but it will certainly improve your chances of keeping your pet safe.
Consider making your own sweet potato treats at home. Try to buy produce locally and make sure to wash the sweet potatoes or yams thoroughly. Then slice them nice and thin, arrange on a baking sheet, and cook in a 300º oven for about 45 minutes. Let the slices cool and store them in plastic bags.
For homemade chicken jerky treats, buy some boneless chicken breasts, clean them, and slice into long, thin strips – the thinner the better. Place the strips on a greased or non-stick cookie sheet and bake them for at least three hours at 180 degrees. The low temp dries the chicken out slowly and the strips wind up nice and chewy. Let the strips cool, and then store them in plastic bags or another airtight container. You can also freeze them.
We have removed the reference to Drs. Foster and Smith. We also included a message from their organization. Drs. Foster and Smith products were not implicated in this problem.
Statement from Drs. Foster and Smith
There has been a lot of discussion lately on the internet regarding dog treats made in China. The FDA has been monitoring this situation and performing a battery of tests. Their web site is the most reliable source of information on this. Much of the other discussion on the internet, including some "reports", is based on speculation rather than facts.
The FDA has not issued any report that identifies any of the Drs. Foster and Smith treats as being the cause of an illness in animals. The latest information from FDA is that after running many tests on products from multiple manufacturers for many harmful substances, they still cannot establish any link between any cases of illness in animals and treats from China. We are continuing to watch this situation closely.
Please be assured that our goal at Doctors Foster and Smith is to provide pet products of only the highest quality. The treat products we receive from China come from companies that we have worked with for many years. These companies hold quality and safety certifications from many US and European inspection agencies, and are frequently inspected by our representatives from the United States to assure they are following proper safety and quality control practices. For those people who wish to buy US-manufactured products, we carry many products made in the United States. Our dry and canned pet foods are made in the US. Many of our Doctors Foster and Smith treats are also made in the United States- for example our Premium Natural Biscuits are made here in Wisconsin. We also carry, under other labels, some chicken jerky and other treats made in the US.