Prior to 2007, jerky treats were commonplace in pet stores, grocery chains, and malls; dogs and cats, it seemed, couldn't get enough of them and pet parents were more than happy to oblige. Since that time, however, the popularity of these items has dwindled following thousands of complaints from concerned pet parents and consumers. Could these jerky treats hold the key to the many instances of illness noted in animals across America, or are we worrying unduly?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 5,200 complaints regarding sick animals, and three humans, have been recorded since 2007; that's more than 570 per year. Reports of animals suffering symptoms following the ingestion of jerky treats peaked in 2012 and 2013, with 2,000 complaints recorded during each spike. Many pets who had eaten jerky treats experienced symptoms similar to kidney disease and Fanconi syndrome. Despite negative blood glucose tests, glucose was found in the patients' urine.
Things are looking bad for jerky treats, until you consider the fact that many illnesses can display similar symptoms to those reported since 2007. Diabetes can occur in cats and dogs of all shapes and sizes, regardless of diet, while pups are renowned for eating items that will later cause them discomfort. Can vets be sure that jerky is to blame for these instances of severe illness? Reports shared by Veterinary Practice News can't be so sure. There have been some 87 postmortems carried out on animals that ingested jerky shortly before death, and more than half were found to have identified another cause, such as cancer or parvovirus, as the culprit. Jerky treats can neither be ruled out nor blamed in the vast majority of cases.
Following a thorough investigation, the FDA did find traces of antibiotics and antiviral medications in the Chinese factories where many jerky treats were produced; it seems that such foods could be implicated after all. However, the mystery surrounding the safety of these tasty treats remains. If your pet has eaten a product containing jerky, or if you're concerned about new symptoms, please do consult your veterinarian for advice. Symptoms of illness include a decreased appetite, unquenchable thirst, and increased urination, as well as vomiting and diarrhea.