A consumer alert for pet owners as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says hundreds of dogs and cats have died after eating some popular jerky treats.
The Food and Drug Administration is now appealing to dog and cat owners for information as it struggles to solve a mysterious outbreak of illness and deaths among pets that ate jerky treats.
Most of the offending treats come from China, but there isn't one particular brand to watch out for.
The FDA has also released a fact sheet on its website so pet owners can be warned of possible symptoms.
The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has run more than 1,200 tests, visited pet treat manufacturing plants in China and worked with researchers, state labs and foreign governments but still hasn't determined the exact cause of the illness, the FDA statement said.
"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," Bernadette Dunham, a veterinarian and head of the FDA vet medicine center, said in the statement.
Pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea among other symptoms within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes or dried fruit.
Severe cases have involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder, the FDA said.
The FDA has issued previous warnings. A number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January after a New York state lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China, the FDA said. The agency said that while the levels of the drugs were very low and it was unlikely that they caused the illnesses, there was a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses after the products were removed from the market. FDA believes that the number of reports may have declined simply because fewer jerky treats were available.
The FDA says that there have been in upwards of 3,000 reports of pet illnesses because of the jerky treats.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation) and Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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