Potentially dangerous dog treats
Could you be feeding your dog potentially deadly treats?
The Food and Drug Administration is investigating and testing several kinds of dog treats after complaints that chicken jerky style products imported from China may have killed or sickened more than 1,000 dogs. So why are the treats still being sold on store shelves?
"We have to be with her all the time," Robert Sigman said, of his Golden-Doodle dog Sami.
Sigman brings his eight-month old dog with him to work every day. Sami needs to go potty every 30 minutes.
Despite her age, Sami was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening disease called Fanconi Syndrome.
Because of the disease, she has to go out often, gulps water and swallows dozens of pills a day. Her owners say her life-span has also been cut in half.
"We've fallen in love with her and to hear the vet say that she's only got five to seven years is tough," Sigman said.
When Sami was younger, the Sigman's gave her chicken-jerky style treats; one a day for about a month.
"It looked good, said all-natural ingredients," he said.
Soon after, their friends warned them about reports that some chicken jerky treats had been imported from China. The couple started noticing Sami guzzling water and needing to go out all the time. So they took the dog to their vet for testing.
The vet thought that the lab work and urinalysis results showed Fanconi Syndrome. It's a disease that can be caused by toxic ingredients in foods and it affects the kidneys.
"(Fanconi Syndrome) can make them really sick and sometimes even cause death," says Veterinary Specialist Dr. Michelle Patrick.
Dr. Patrick of is now treating Sami for the disease.
"It is a gradually progressive disease and some dogs will still live a pretty normal life-span on this really intensive protocol of supplementing back the things that they're losing from the kidneys," she said. "But some of them won't."
While rare, the doctor says she has heard of other cases of Fanconi Syndrome in dogs after eating chicken jerky treats.
"When her vet saw the urinalysis results and the lab work for her, she called me immediately and sent her my way," Dr. Patrick said. "She was suspicious of this syndrome that we've been seeing in some of these pets that have eaten these jerky treats from China."
The FDA investigated treats made by Nestle-Purina and Del Monte and those same treats are still being sold in stores across the country.
"We've tried calling some of the stores to let them know what they have on their shelves is bad, and they say, 'Hey it's not up to us, it's up to the vendor to take them down," Sigman said. "We don't want other people to have to go through this," he continued.
An FDA spokesperson says because the investigation is ongoing and a definitive link between the treats and the illness has not been made, legally, the food can stay on the shelves.
If you believe your pet has been sickened by treats, you are asked to contact the FDA and keep the bag of treats and a sample for possible testing.
Contact the FDA
The following companies still sell the investigated treats. Their complete statements along with the companies who make the treats are posted below:
-Waggin' Train Brand Dog Treats:
"Our chicken jerky dog treats are safe to feed as directed. The FDA has extensively tested chicken jerky treats and has not found any contaminants, nor a definitive cause for reported pet illnesses. Millions of happy, healthy dogs enjoy chicken jerky treats every year, and we stand by the quality and safety of our products. We encourage consumers with questions to contact us at the toll free number on the package, or visit our website."
-Milo's Kitchen Dog Treats:
"At Milo's Kitchen, we understand dogs are part of our families. That's why keeping our pets
safe and healthy is our number one priority. Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky goes through a
detailed 17-step process at the factory, where it is required to pass quality testing during every
single phase. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the FDA have identified no link
between any illness and chicken jerky treats."
"We are aware of the concerns surrounding chicken jerky from China and we have been in contact with the FDA regarding this ongoing investigation. So far the FDA has been unable to identify the cause of the illnesses or find any connection linking the illnesses with specific brands or types of chicken jerky treats. We will closely monitor this ongoing investigation. If evidence is found linking a contaminant to our products, we will take appropriate action."
"As this is part of pending litigation, we don't have any further information to share at this time."
"PetSmart stays current on information issued by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and manufacturers of products we carry in our stores and online. Information from both the FDA and product manufacturers- including required or voluntary recalls- is reviewed swiftly and any recommended enhancements or changes to business practices specific to a product are implemented immediately. At this time, no required or voluntary recalls have been issued by the FDA or any of the manufacturers of the chicken jerky products we carry so we have no immediate plans to remove product from shelves. PetSmart will continue to monitor all sources of information and take action if necessary."
"We are closely monitoring issues related to chicken jerky treats from China. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several diagnostic laboratories in the United States have been investigating this issue. According to the FDA, scientific research has found no precise cause for reported illnesses, and the FDA's extensive chemical and microbial testing have not identified any contaminant. As they continue to investigate the issue, they note that many of the reported illnesses may be the result of causes other than the chicken jerky. We are pet owners and love our pets. We feel that our customers have the right to choose the products they want to feed their pet and the responsibility to maintain a healthy diet for their pet. There are no plans to limit the choices available to customers until direction is given by a regulatory agency. In the meantime, we will continue to carefully watch this issue for updates from the FDA and our suppliers."