According to a May 16 investigation update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 1,000 dogs have died and thousands of complaints have surfaced since 2007 about illnesses in dogs and some cats potentially linked to Chinese pet treats.
While FDA has stated that the deaths and illnesses may be associated with the consumption of pet jerky treats (typically chicken) from China, the agency still has not pinpointed a specific cause despite ongoing tests for numerous potential contaminants.
FDA officials have said of the 4,800 reported pet illnesses, “about 60 percent are for gastrointestinal illness (with or without elevated liver enzymes) and about 30 percent relate to kidney or urinary signs. The remaining 10 percent of cases involve a variety of other signs, including convulsions, tremors, hives, and skin irritation.”
This past week, two of the nation’s largest pet retailers — Petco Animal Supplies Inc., and PetSmart Inc. — announced that they will stop selling dog and cat treats made in China. San Diego, CA-based Petco indicated that it plans to have all Chinese-made pet treats off the shelves of its 1,300 stores by the end of this year.
“We’ve been following the FDA warnings and related customer concerns closely, and we’ve been actively reducing our China-made assortment and expanding our American-made offerings for several years now,” said Petco CEO Jim Myers.
About half of the jerky treats currently sold at Petco stores nationwide are from China. The company will now transition to carrying treats made in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and South America, Myers said.
PetSmart, based in Phoenix, AZ, announced plans to remove China-sourced treats from its outlets by next spring.
“By March 2015, PetSmart will no longer sell dog and cat treats manufactured in China. This is something we’ve been working toward for some time, and feel it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers,” Erin Gray, a PetSmart spokeswoman, told NBC News.
FDA is coordinating further investigation into the problem with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is advising people who feed their dogs pet jerky treats to watch closely for any or all of the following signs which may occur hours or days after consumption of the products: decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), increased water consumption and/or increased urination.
If any or all of those are observed, people are advised to immediately stop feeding the jerky pet treats and consult a veterinarian if the signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.© Food Safety News