By Dr. Becker
It’s been awhile since my last update on the toxic jerky treats imported from China, that since 2007 have made thousands of dogs ill and resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 furry family members.
According to a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) news release in June 2016:
“Dogs are still becoming ill after eating jerky-type treats, although illness reports have declined.”1
Dogs are STILL becoming ill! If like me, you’ve been following this debacle for the last nine years, I’m sure you’re just as angry and frustrated as I am.
FDA’s Most Recent Update
In mid-May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an update on its ongoing (essentially useless) investigation into the issue.
Since the FDA began its search for answers in 2007, as of the end of 2015, the agency had received over 5,000 complaints of illness caused by chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats made with ingredients imported from China.
Those complaints involved over 6,200 dogs, 26 cats and three people (including two toddlers). Tragically, over 1,100 of the 6,200 dogs ultimately died after eating the tainted treats.
Illegal Drug Residue Contamination
The FDA’s investigation into suspect treat samples uncovered the existence of illegal residues from several antibiotics that aren’t approved for use in poultry in the U.S. These include sulfaclozine, tilmicosin, trimethoprim and enrofloxacin, plus the approved-for-use drug sulfaquinoxaline.
The investigation also found illegal residues of the anti-viral drugs amantadine, rimantadine and memantine, which are approved for use in chickens, ducks and turkeys.
To clarify — even though some of the drugs the FDA discovered are approved for use in poultry in this country, the residues from those drugs should not be detectable in food products made from poultry. That’s why the residues are described as “illegal.”
Predictably, neither the FDA nor treat manufacturers believe the illegal drug residues were what caused sickness and death in so many pets.
As Usual, No Treat Brands Are Listed
The FDA offers the usual vague advice to pet parents in its most recent update:
“The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet, and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians if they notice symptoms in their pets, such as decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination.
The majority of complaints involve chicken jerky (treats, tenders and strips), but others include duck, sweet potato and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, yams or rawhide.”2
To no one’s surprise, in their most recent updates, neither the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) nor the FDA lists the specific treats that continue to make dogs ill.
However, back in 2012 a major media outlet was able to obtain internal FDA documents through a public records request that named names, including Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats (made by Nestle Purina), and Milo’s Kitchen Home-Style Dog Treats (made by Del Monte, renamed Big Heart).3
Once the names were made public, followed by detection of the illegal drug residues, Nestle Purina and Del Monte did a voluntary recall of jerky treats in early 2013. However, a year later they were back on store shelves. Per NBC News in January 2014:
"Two of the top-selling brands of jerky treats for pets will soon return to U.S. store shelves, a year after a nationwide recall and with government experts no closer to solving the mystery that has linked the products to hundreds of animal deaths and thousands of illnesses."4
Nestle Purina put their still-made-in-China Waggin' Train treats back on store shelves in February 2014, and Del Monte returned their treats to the market the following month.
Del Monte claims its Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky Strips and Chicken Grillers Recipe treats are made from "U.S.-sourced meat," and Nestle has announced that in addition to their China-supplied treats, they will also introduce "new products sourced entirely in the U.S."
Worried pet owners, animal advocates and veterinarians weren’t happy about seeing the treats back on store shelves, since there's really no information about what changes, if any, the pet treat producers made to their products.
It may or may not be these particular treats that continue to cause dogs to get sick, but I’d certainly never recommend or offer them to my own pets.
Why Risk Your Pet’s Health When Making Your Own Jerky Pet Treats Is a Snap?
Nine years and counting is far too long for a situation like this to drag on. Thousands of pets and their heartbroken families have paid a heavy price, and it is incredibly frustrating to know that dogs are still becoming ill from tainted treats.
If you are a pet guardian, please don't buy or feed chicken jerky treats, chicken tenders, chicken strips or chicken treats made in China to your pet. Buy only food and treats sourced and made entirely in the U.S.
Better yet, why risk your pet’s health with store-bought treats when it’s so simple to make homemade chicken jerky treats in your own kitchen? All you need is a basic dehydrator and a package of free-range organic chicken breasts to make all-natural, entirely safe chicken jerky your pets will love.
Homemade Chicken Jerky Recipe
- Free-range organic chicken breasts
- Slice chicken breasts into half-inch strips and place on dehydrator tray
- Dehydrate at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours
- Reduce temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for another four hours or until meat is thoroughly dry
- Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks