Dog Dies Less Than 24 Hours After Eating This Coveted Treat

beef jerky treats

Story at-a-glance -

  • Toxic jerky treats continue to sicken and kill dogs 11 years after the problem was discovered
  • Pet owner reports being received by involve dogs who developed Fanconi syndrome, a problem with the kidneys, after eating jerky-type treats imported from China
  • A recent case involved a 4-year-old Yorkie who died less than 24 hours after eating a jerky treat the dog’s owner purchased at Walmart
  • While the FDA hasn’t issued any warnings since mid-2016 on the toxic treats, all pet parents should steer clear of any treat that isn’t fully sourced and made in the U.S.
  • Homemade chicken jerky treats are very easy to prepare, and pet parents can be 100 percent confident they aren’t feeding their animal companions something that could hurt them

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

It's been almost two years since my last update on the toxic jerky treats imported from China, which since 2007 have made thousands of dogs ill and resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 furry family members. Two years ago in June 2016, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) issued a news release stating, "Dogs are still becoming ill after eating jerky-type treats, although illness reports have declined."1

Around the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an update on its ongoing (thus far virtually useless) investigation into the issue. There have been no "official" updates since then, but from 2007 when the FDA began its search for answers to 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. Continues to Receive Complaints

Pet food consumer advocate Susan Thixton reported in March that "Jerky dog treats imported from China are sickening and killing pets again. It is unknown how many complaints FDA has received; has received multiple complaints over the past couple of months."2

As Susan also points out, "… the FDA has never provided consumers with a reason/cause for the pet illnesses and deaths," which leads to an obvious conclusion: "The FDA's lack of action could be why we are now learning of more pet illnesses and deaths related to imported treats from China."

Susan cites the case of a 4-year-old Yorkie in Oklahoma who was given Golden Rewards Chicken Jerky treat purchased from a Wal-Mart in Edmond. Zoe the Yorkie ate the treat at 10 a.m., and by 2 p.m. she had diarrhea. Zoe's veterinarian told her mom that it didn't look good, and little Zoe died less than 24 hours later. Toby, Zoe's brother, also ate a treat and became sick, but was expected to recover.3

Because no "officials" have come forward with an update since mid-2016, there's no way to know how many additional pets have become ill or died, nor do we know what brands of jerky treats are involved. However, the reports Susan is receiving from pet parents indicate their dogs are being diagnosed with Fanconi syndrome — the same condition that has been linked to Chinese jerky treats since 2007.

In Fanconi syndrome, the tubules of the kidneys don't function properly. In healthy kidneys, the tubules reabsorb vitamins, minerals and sugars back into the body to be reused. These tubules in a dog with Fanconi aren't able to perform their reabsorption function.

Solutes including amino acids, glucose, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and bicarbonate are dumped into the urine and passed from the body. The loss of these solutes leads to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and other problems. Typical symptoms are vomiting, lethargy and anorexia.

Illegal Drug Residue Contamination

The FDA's now 11-year 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 antiviral 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, and in its 2016 update, the FDA offers vague advice to pet parents:

"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."4

Why Risk Your Pet's Health When Making Your Own Jerky Pet Treats Is a Snap?

Eleven 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're 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


  1. Slice chicken breasts into half-inch strips and place on dehydrator tray.
  2. Dehydrate at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours.
  3. Reduce temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for another four hours or until meat is thoroughly dry.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Chicken Strips
Dehydrated Chicken Strips
Chicken Jerky Treat
Dog Treat