Porky & Buddy Pet Health – How Safe Are Chicken Jerky Treats?

Dear Porky & Buddy,
My dog, Bruce, just loves chicken jerky treats.  I mean he really really loves them passionately.  He will do ANYTHING to get one.

But I just found out that they may not be safe for him.  In fact, according to the FDA, just a few days ago Waggin’ Train, Canyon Creek Ranch, Milo’s Kitchen and Cadet brand chicken jerky treats have been recalled because they contain residues of an antibiotic not approved for use in the U.S.

Bruce loves all of them although he has not had those brands just recently. But what about other brands? What should I do?  Where can I get more information?

Dear Jon,
Carrot sticks.  They are nice and crunchy. You can make sure they are safe by peeling them. And they never have additives of weird stuff from China.

OK, OK, let’s suppose Bruce would run away in disgust if you offered him carrot sticks.

How can you be sure that commercial treats for dogs are safe? We asked our friends at the American Veterinary Medical Association what they knew about the problem with chicken jerky treats and what they would recommend.

Here’s the story.

In 2007, the AVMA issued an alert that it had been receiving reports of illness in dogs that seemed to be associated with these treats. Sporadic reports continued to come in after that but  in spite of intensive testing and investigation, no one could figure out why the dogs were getting sick or whether it was definitely related to the treats. Then in 2011, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association notified the AVMA that they have received reports similar to the cases first reported in the U.S. in 2007.

The FDA is aware of the situation and is also investigating.

It appears that the products affected were made in China and/or contain Chinese-origin products. They may be sold as tenders, strips or treats.  Based on preliminary information, this problem is more likely to occur in small-breed dogs that are fed these treats regularly and/or in amounts exceeding the label-recommended frequency or amount.

However, dogs of all sizes and various breeds have been affected, and in some dogs illness was reportedly associated with consumption of just one treat. Affected dogs usually have a recent history of vomiting, lethargy and anorexia within hours to days following consumption of jerky treats.

The complaints have included liver, gastrointestinal and/or kidney disease. In 2007, most of the dogs affected recovered with proper treatment.

Although chicken jerky treat consumption was a common thread in all these reports, a definitive cause-and-effect link has not been established. (Melamine, the contaminant that led to the wide-scale pet food recalls of 2007, is not the cause of the current situation.)

In short, not much is known at all at this time.

Here is what the AVMA is recommending to pet owners about the use of these treats and we are quoting it exactly:

It is up to you to decide whether or not you will feed your dog chicken jerky treats. If you choose to do so, we recommend that you feed them in small quantities and only on occasion. This is especially important for small-breed dogs.

If your pet is vomiting, lethargic, or does not want to eat, consult your veterinarian, especially if there is a history of chicken jerky treat consumption. If your pet is showing these signs, it does not necessarily mean that your pet has been made ill by chicken jerky treats – your veterinarian will likely need to perform tests to determine the cause of the problem.

If your pet becomes ill and you and/or your veterinarian suspect(s) the illness may be associated with the consumption of chicken jerky treats, discontinue feeding the treats and save the treats and packaging (storing them out of your pet’s reach and in a place where a family member will not mistakenly feed them to your pet) in case they are needed for testing. Report the illness to the FDA.

Sort of makes those carrots sound like a pretty good idea after all doesn’t it?

Talk to your vet.  Ask her what she thinks.  Investigate other treats or snacks with different ingredients that Bruce might turn out to like just as much.

Bake him some dog cookies. Turn him into a food snob.

Speaking of food snobs, you can meet all of our cats for adoption at the Warm Up Oswego Adoption Day on February 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oswego YMCA/Armory, 265 W. Second St., Oswego.

To celebrate the New Year, adoption fees for cats over six months are only $20.13 through February 2.

That’s right – while supplies last you can have your very own long-lasting personal warming device for only $20.13.

There will be refreshments and treats for kids and lots of other fun activities going on at the Armory and all over downtown Oswego for the Warm Up Oswego Festival.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First St.

Phone (315) 207-1070.

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.oswegohumane.org

Because people and pets are good for each other!