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
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
"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.
Pet Treat Mystery: More Dogs Dead, 3 People Sick, FDA Says
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It's no fun having to remove ticks from your dog during the spring and summer months. Not only
are these blood-suckers nasty to look at, all filled up with your pet's hard won blood as they are,
they are also notoriously difficult to dislodge, making it so you have to get up close and personal
in order to assure success. Because left too long or not removed entirely, these buggers can
cause some serious diseases. So, what can you do to keep your dog tick-free this season?
Here are a few ideas to consider …


Using an over the counter spot-on medication that you purchase from your veterinarian, pet
store, or online can be a very effective method for controlling both ticks and fleas. These
medications are effective at keeping parasites at bay for up to a month. While these medications
are great, you still need to be very careful about which one you use. Make sure you read all
labels carefully, and if you have any doubts, be sure to get advice from your veterinarian before


Pills that are given once a month are readily available for dogs. These medications can work to
kill both ticks and immature fleas and will disrupt the life cycle of fleas. They are easy to give
and you won't have to be concerned about small children and cats coming into contact with
dogs immediately after application, as you might with spot-on treatments.


Bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on
contact. This can be an inexpensive (though labor-intensive) method of protecting your dog
during the peak tick season. You will need to repeat the process more often, about every two
weeks, as the effective ingredients won't last as long as a spot-on or oral medication.


A dip is a concentrated chemical that needs to be diluted in water and applied to the animal's fur
with a sponge or poured over the back. This treatment is not meant to be rinsed off after
application. The chemicals used in dips can be very strong, so be sure to read the labels
carefully before use. You should not use a dip for very young animals (under four months) or for
pregnant or nursing pets. Ask your veterinarian for advice before treating puppies, or pregnant
or nursing pets.


Collars that repel ticks are an additional preventive you can use, though they are mainly only
useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. The tick collar needs to make contact with
your dog's skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto the dog's fur and skin. When putting this
type of collar on your dog, you will need to make sure there is just enough room to fit two fingers
under the collar when it's around the dog's neck. Cut off any excess length of collar to prevent
your dog from chewing on it. Watch for signs of discomfort (e.g., excessive scratching) in case
an allergic reaction to the collar occurs. Make sure you read the labels carefully when choosing
a collar.


Another method of topical medication, tick powders work to kill and repel ticks from your dog.
These powders should be used with care during application. Be sure that the powder you are
using is labeled for dogs before use, as well as for your dog's specific age. Also, make sure you
check the label to make sure that the product is designed to kill ticks as well as fleas. This very
fine powder can be an irritant to the mouth or lungs if inhaled, so use small amounts and slowly
rub it into the skin. Keep powders away from the face and eyes when applying. You will need to
reapply the product more often, about once a week during peak season. Some powders can
also be used in areas where your dog sleeps, and in other parts of the household your dog


Another topical application of medication, tick spray kills ticks quickly and provides residual
protection. Sprays can be used in between shampoos and dips, and when you are planning to
spend time out in wooded areas -- where ticks are most prevalent -- with your dog. Be careful
when using this product around your dog's face, and do not use it on or around any other
animals in the home.


Keeping your lawn, bushes, and trees trimmed back will help reduce the population of fleas and
ticks in your backyard. If there are fewer areas for these parasites to live and breed, there will
be fewer of them to be concerned with. If you still have a problem, consider using one of the
various household and yard sprays orgranular treatments that are available from your
veterinarian, pet store, or local garden center. Just be careful when using these products, as
they can be harmful to animals, fish, and humans. If you have a severe problem or you are
concerned about the proper handling of these chemicals, you might want to consider hiring an
exterminator to apply yard and area sprays to control the ticks and fleas.


After a romp outside in areas where ticks could be lurking, be sure to carefully check your dog
for ticks. Look between the toes, inside the ears, between the legs (in the "armpits"), and
around the neck, deep in the fur. If you find any ticks before they have had a chance to attach
and become engorged, you may have prevented serious illness for your pet. If you do find a tick
attached to your dog, removal should be done immediately and carefully, making sure to get all
parts of the tick's body


While you do have to take your dog outside a few times a day, it is probably not a good idea to
allow him to stay outside for extended periods during the height of tick season. Preventing your
dog from roaming through wooded areas where ticks are likely to be lying in wait is a very
effective way of keeping your pet safe from exposure, but you will still have to check your dog
over thoroughly, even after short walks through grass and brush. You may still have a few ticks
wandering around your yard, but if you keep things tidy and use preventives for when your dog
does go out and check your dog over for any rogue ticks that might have attached themselves,
your dog should have minimal risk of becoming a meal for ticks this summer.