Vet clinics post warning about dog treats

Barb Sweet
Published on January 27, 2014
Dr. Erin Wilson stands next to an advisory posted in the Torbay Road veterinary clinic. The notice warns pet owners about possible dangers of certain jerky treats. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Veterinarians are keeping track of any adverse reactions dogs and cats may have to chicken jerky products made in China.

The request to log such cases came at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA), said Dr. Erin Wilson of the Torbay Road Animal Hospital.

The clinic has posted a notice about jerky products, warning pet owners of concerns. Wilson told the The Telegram she hasn’t had a case yet of adverse health effects.

Symptoms to watch for include severe diarrhea, bloody discharge, and increased urination or water consumption after the treats are eaten, all of which would be red flags. The main concern is that some jerky treats could potentially cause Fanconi syndrome, a kidney disease, but FDA tests have not confirmed a cause.

“They have been trying to do a bunch of tests on these treats, but they haven’t been able to determine a cause of the illness,” Wilson said.

“If veterinarians get a case that they believe has been caused by these jerky treats, we should contact the Canadian Veterinary Association.”

Wilson recommends that if pet owners are going to feed such treats to their pets, they should watch for warning signs.

“I guess I would be cautious until the root of the cause of the illness can be identified. … Veterinarians will have to report these incidents. Clients can be cautious. I would recommend avoiding for now until we have a clearer picture.”

The FDA has cautioned in the past that it has received a number of complaints about the treats.

“Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities,” the FDA said in one of its cautionary notices.

The FDA notice continued: “Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.”

The treats may also be sold as chicken tenders or strips.

One company that manufactures them — Celebrity Products Inc. —  has posted a safety guarantee on its website.

“There is not now, nor has there ever been a recall of a CHEWMASTERS pet treat. The owners of CHEWMASTERS visit the manufacturing factory on an annual basis and can attest that this facility in China has higher standards than most, if not all, the facilities they’ve visited in North America,” the company stated.

“To date, after extensive chemical and microbial testing, the FDA has not been able to identify a contaminant or ingredient as the cause of any illness, or a direct link to chicken jerky.”