Veterinarians urge caution for pet owners
FDA receives reports of thousands of petssick, hundreds dying from jerky treats
by Special to the Enterprise
LOUISVILLE — Veterinarians from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are urging caution after the Food and Drug Administration issued a request for members of the general public and their veterinarians to send any information they have if their pet has become ill after eating jerky treats.
Since 2007, the FDA says they have received reports of 3,600 dogs and 10 cats becoming ill from eating jerky treats in the U.S. Approximately 580 of those pets have died, according to the FDA.
Most of the jerky treats involved in the illnesses have been from China.
Doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are encouraging people to be aware of treats made from jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes or dried fruit.
Additionally, people should take their pet to veterinarian immediately if they notice signs of lethargy, decreased activity, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination.
“As always, anytime your pet is exhibiting abnormal behavior or symptoms of sickness, take him to your family veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinarian as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer of BluePearl Veterinary Partners.
FDA continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet. The agency encourages pet owners to consult with their veterinarian prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets.
The rate of complaints associated with jerky pet treats dropped sharply after several well-known brands were removed from the market in January 2013, when a study conducted by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing (NYSDAM) detected low levels of antibiotic residues in those products. FDA believes that the drop in complaints is linked to a decrease in the availability of jerky pet treats rather than the low levels of antibiotics found in January, which FDA believes are unlikely to be the cause of the illnesses.
However, FDA is performing an evaluation to determine the possibility for low levels of the antibiotics to cause illness in dogs when fed over a length of time. This process involves review of the scientific literature, as well as any adverse event reports and consumer complaints sent to the FDA in connection with dogs and sulfonamide drugs, and may take many months to complete. In the meantime, our investigation continues to evaluate all potential causes for illness from the jerky pet treats.
Potential jerky pet-treat related illnesses should be reported online or by calling the Kentucky FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator at 800-437-2382 (toll-free) or 513- 679-2700; Tennesssee at 866-289-3399 (toll-free); and Virginia at 410-779-5713.
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