FDA cautions about chicken jerky products for dogs

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The Food and Drug Administration continues to caution that certain chicken jerky products for dogs—also sold as chicken tenders, strips, or treats—are associated with illness in dogs.

According to a Nov. 18, 2011, update, the FDA has seen an increase during the past 12 months in the number of complaints from dog owners and veterinarians regarding illnesses in dogs associated with consumption of chicken jerky products from China.

The FDA issued warnings regarding chicken jerky products in September 2007 and December 2008. The number of complaints dropped off during late 2009 and most of 2010 before rising again.

The agency advises consumers who feed chicken jerky products to their dogs to watch them for any of the following signs of illness: a decrease in appetite; a decrease in activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; an increase in water consumption; or an increase in urination.

Dog owners should consult their veterinarian if their dogs have signs of illness that are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests might indicate kidney failure, and urine tests might indicate Fanconi syndrome. Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA involved dogs that died.

The FDA and several U.S. animal health diagnostic laboratories are working to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. The agency continues chemical and microbial testing of the products but has not identified a contaminant.

The website at www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints provides information about how to report animal illnesses associated with pet foods.