Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Pet Jerky Mystery Continues. What Is Safe For Your Spoiled Pups?

We all beg, 
and we all want to feel spoiled.
 It has been seven years of waiting and wondering for some kind of news and action to be taken to protect our pets from the mysterious Chinese exported pet jerky treat deaths. In that time over 1,000 dogs have died, and 5,000 have been sickened.

With little progress being made and businesses who sell these treats reluctant to respond to the hysteria many people took to the internet, message boards, and even the store shelves to try to alert other pet parents about the dangers. It was yet another reason so many people began to seek alternatives to the store bought food options. It is not a mere coincidence that the explosion in popularity of the RAW foods and boutique brands popped up over night, gained a foothold, and impacted the big food manufacturers people love their pets and people were worried. Add to the growing suspicion a reluctance to act and the mystery shrouds itself in questions of morality, ethics, and intent to not protect our family members at the expense of protecting their suppliers.

What started out as a few screams and pleas for attention of the many brands of chicken jerky treats who all shared a common origin, China, has finally turned into a call for customer comments, suggestions, and submission of samples by the FDA, has now turned into a self policed ban from the major big box stores like PetCo and PetSmart. Finally there appears to be both some recognition of the fears so many people have voiced, the deaths of so many pets, and an acknowledgement that even without an exact understanding of why it is happening, we are going to put our pets health first and protect others.

Although the exact cause of the illness is still unknown the vehicle that delivers it is finally getting benched and hopefully more pets will be spared.

For those of us who routinely provide incentives to our pets to remain either by our side, or are in need of reassurance that we are still as devoted to our pet as ever, there are some alternatives available to you to treat your pet.

Here are some of my favorite manufactured treats;

1. Bil-Jac treats have been around for a long while. They list two ingredients and are sourced from US product only.

 2. Stewart's Pro-Treat. Only one ingredient, beef liver, and procured and made in the US. Also they are small and easily broken into even smaller pieces.

3. Science Diet Jerky strips. Made in USA, easily broken into smaller pieces so one strip can be used as multiple treats.

4. Fruitables. Small pieces with calories per treat listed on the front. For the calorie conscious pets try the Skinny Minis at 3-1/2 calories per treat.

5. Make your own jerky. This blog was done by Jana Rade, who makes her own dog treats and shared her recipes and ideas on her blog, Making Your Own Dog Treats: Our Homemade Jerky Treat Production. Or, see Dr. V's video.

Still having trouble? And still worried about where your treats are from? Or what options you have? Go to and ask for "Pet Treats Made in the USA"

Still worried about what to feed your pet? Here's my advice on this;
We all live in a world and a society that is dependent on each other. Very few of us have the time, resources, or ability to live independently from the grocery store. The only way to be independent and in total control of the foods you and your pet consume are to raise your own livestock, grow your own vegetables and purify your own water. After that you have to store these ingredients to be able to prepare your own meals later. Add to this the dilemma of providing a safely storable balanced diet and the task is almost impossible if you have a job and a life outside of this task. That said, your best bet is to buy a commercially available high quality food from a well known, trusted, and long established manufacturer.

I am not usually a fan of big companies, and whenever possible I try to support local small businesses, but when it comes to my pets food I rely on the proven track record of a large company that has safely fed generations of pets from start to finish. I also have seen a few of these companies stand by their product in the face of fear and doubt. I have seen these companies assist clients in caring for their pets, reimburse them if the product was deemed inappropriate, or not palatable, and I have seen these companies stand by their internal quality control which is a cost most of the smaller companies cannot afford to do.

Do I believe that the smaller, newer food companies have their heart and product mission statement based on a lofty admirable goal? Yes. But do they have the ability to do that from outsourcing to production to client coverage in the face of a disaster? No. I have yet to see one of them do so. The other point of contention that I have with the smaller food companies is their marketing strategy. Most of them are based on many of the same strategies and slanderous tactics that politicians use. Instead of touting your superior qualities they choose to instead use misleading, false, and emotionally manipulative verbiage and tactics that smear their opponent. I don't vote for someone based on the nasty things they say about the other candidate, and I feed my pets based on the knowledge of 4 years of vet school and 9 years in practice, and the many healthy pets I have seen pass through the clinic.

More information on these topics available here;
And for the latest news on the pet jerky;

The Pet Jerky Mystery Continues.
Pet jerky treats, mostly imported from China, are now linked to more than 1,000 deaths in dogs, more than 4,800 complaints about animal illness, and, for the first time, sickness in three people who ate the products, federal health officials said Friday.

But Food and Drug Administration officials say they still can't identify a specific cause for the reported illnesses or deaths, despite seven years of testing and investigation.

“The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky treats are not required for a balanced diet and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians, both prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets,” FDA said in a statement.

The humans who consumed the treats included two toddlers who ingested them accidentally and an adult who may have been snacking on the questionable products, which include chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats, an FDA official said.

“The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky treats are not required for a balanced diet and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians."

One of the children was diagnosed with a salmonella infection, which can be spread by touching contaminated pet food and treats. The other child developed gastrointestinal illness and fever that mirrored the symptoms of dogs in the house that also ate the treats. The adult reported nausea and headache, said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.

The agency has received about 1,800 new reports of illnesses and deaths since its last update in October, some involving more than one pet. The numbers now include 5,600 dogs and 24 cats.
About 60 percent of the cases involve symptoms of gastrointestinal trouble and liver disease, 30 percent involve kidney disease and about 10 percent involve other complaints, including neurological and skin conditions, the FDA said. About 15 percent of the kidney or urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare disease that has been associated with the treats.
Agency officials also said they were able to perform necropsies, or post-death examinations, on 26 dogs submitted by veterinarians from across the country. In half of those cases, the deaths did not appear to be associated with the treats. Of the remaining 13 cases, an association with eating jerky treats "could not be ruled out," FDA officials said.
The FDA plans to join with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a study similar to epidemiological traceback investigations used with people, comparing foods eaten by sick dogs with foods eaten by pets that did not get sick.
Pet treats made by national manufacturers Nestle Purina Pet Care and Del Monte Foods Corp., now known as Big Heart Pet Brands, were returned to store shelves recently after a voluntary recall tied to the discovery of unapproved antibiotic residue in some products last year. FDA officials said they had received few reports of illness associated with those reformulated products and no Fanconi syndrome cases.
In response to consumer demand, Milo's Kitchen Chicken Grillers and other products are now made in the U.S. with U.S.-sourced meat, said Chrissy Trampedach, Big Heart's director of corporate communications.

Overall, the jerky treat illnesses and deaths have been associated with many different product brands, officials said.

In the new report, the FDA said it had detected the antiviral drug amantadine in some Chinese chicken jerky samples sold more than a year ago. Officials said they don't believe the drug contributed to the animal illnesses or deaths. However, the drug, which is used to treat Parkinson's disease and influenza in humans, should not be present in jerky treats, officials said. The FDA has warned Chinese and domestic suppliers that amantadine is considered an adulterant, which could be grounds for banning the treats for sale in the U.S.

The companies have consistently said that the treats are safe to feed as directed and they've emphasized that, despite extensive testing, no specific cause of illness has been linked to the products.
"It's quite sad when you see it dawn on the people that they're trying to reward their best buddy there and then now they're the ones who have been making them ill."

Pet owners and veterinarians have criticized the FDA for not finding the source of the contamination more quickly and for not issuing more far-reaching recalls. They say they're sure that the products are dangerous, and that the reported illnesses and deaths should be more than enough proof.

"Its really hard to look at the number of cases that come in, correlate them with what they're eating and then go away from that and say, no, it's not related," said Brett Levitzke, a Brooklyn, New York, veterinarian who has seen more than a dozen dogs since 2011 with Fanconi syndrome.

"It's quite sad when you see it dawn on the people that they're trying to reward their best buddy there and then now they're the ones who have been making them ill," he told NBC News.

Original Article found here.

Charlie being gentle with his treat acquisition.

And Jekyll, a bit more eager, but still so adorable!
If you have a pet question about food, treats, training, behavior, or anything pet related, you can ask me, and the other pet lovers on Pawbly is dedicated to helping people take care of their pets and is always Free to use.

Or find me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Veterinary Center, in Jarrettsville Maryland.

Or on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Be safe, be kind, and always spoil those you love.


  1. I've finally gone with the "make your own" option. I was heading that direction anyway since two of my pack have food allergy issues. I spent about $100.00 on a food dehydrator but I'm willing to bet I have saved at least three times that much since putting it into use. At first I thought "I don't have time to do that and it sounds like a lot of hassel". But honestly, with a minimal amount of time and effort I can make enough treats to last for several weeks and I feel good knowing that I am in control of what my dogs are eating.

    1. Hello!

      Thanks for reading and for adding your own experience and success! I have to admit that there is probably no way that I am ever going to get around to making food for my pets, I don't cook for anyone in the house, and I barely have (make) time to floss anymore..but maybe I can find a friend who will make treats for the pups,,I could exchange pet advice! Brava!
      Thanks for reading,,,and I am always interested in suggestions and advice for future posts.


  2. Thanks for the alternative suggestions.

  3. Great post with lots of good information. We're happy about the progress, just wish it had been sooner. I used to get those liver treats all the time, b ut when we moved our new pet store doesn't have them. Now I can order them again - thanks for sharing the manufacturer.

  4. Great information! We just reviewed some turkey jerky by Betsy Farms that I totally loved We also just read about making your own which would be fun to try. Love Dolly

  5. Great info! We've found lots of USA made treats we love to use for training. Regarding Jerky, Rocco is loving the new Castor & Pollux Jerky Chip cookies. Have a great weekend!
    Diane and Rocco

  6. Hi Y'all!

    I get home baked treats.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  7. Great post! I had to smile at the pics of the dogs getting treats. I too have a gentle treat-taker, and another who is more "eager" as you say.

  8. I'm just glad we've been making our own jerky for about seven years now. It's a bit of a work but it's cheaper and safe. Oh, and POPULAR among the dogs :-)

  9. This blog has been so interesting to read! I have never tried making my own jerky. It must be very cost effective.

  10. What a cute little beagle. I love small dogs like these. Do you see a lot of them at your veterinarian clinic?