(May 19, 2014) — More than 1,000 dog deaths could now be linked to toxic jerky treats, according to recent information released by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the FDA, since 2007 there have been more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats.
Roughly 37% of those complaints were received since the FDA’s last update on the investigation on Oct. 22, 2013.
No specific brands were listed, but the FDA said nearly all of the treats were imported from China.
The reported illness complaints involve more than 5,600 dogs as well as 24 cats and three people. More than 1,000 dogs have died.
The FDA is unsure of the specific cause of the illnesses and deaths. A majority of the reported symptoms include gastrointestinal or liver disease. Roughly one third were linked to kidney and urinary disease.
Dr. Jonathan Levine, an associate veterinarian at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in New York City, told Fox News that pet owners should always check the labels of whatever foods they give their pets.
“Always be aware of what you’re buying and where it’s coming from,” Levine said to Fox News.
However, Fox reports that products stamped with “Made in the USA” could still contain ingredients sourced from China and other countries.
The FDA is currently collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a study to determine which foods may be contributing to the diseases. The study will compare the foods eaten by sick dogs to those eaten by dogs who haven’t gotten sick.
The FDA is also cautioning pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet. If your pet experiences any signs of illness, including vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy, they ask that you contact your veterinarian right away.
If you believe your pet may have gotten sick from jerky treats and you’d like to report it to the FDA, click here for more information.