As part of its ongoing investigation into a rash of pet illnesses and deaths associated with jerky treats, the Food and Drug Administration has announced an additional 1,800 cases reported since the last update in October, 2013. The illnesses are believed to stem from chicken, duck, and sweet potato jerky treats, almost all of which were produced in China and sold under a variety of brands and packages in the US.
Thus far, more than 5,600 dogs have been reported sick from eating the treats—including 1,000 canine deaths—as have 24 cats and 3 humans. Roughly 60 percent of the reported cases involved gastrointestinal and liver disease, 30 percent involved kidney and urinary disease, and 10 percent involved a variety of neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms.
15 percent of the kidney and urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has been previously associated with the FDA’s investigation.
Testing of the pet treats has revealed the presence of the drug amantadine in some samples of chicken jerky. The FDA prohibited the use of amantadine in poultry in 2006, but does not believe the drug is causing the health issues associated with the treats, as the symptoms do not match up with known side effects of amantadine.
At this time, the FDA is still unsure exactly what has caused the jerky-related illnesses and deaths. It is currently working with veterinarians to collect more information for its investigation and asks anyone who witnesses signs of illness that may be related to the treats to report the occurrence. The FDA has also noted that jerky treats are not required for a balanced diet and is encouraging pet owners to consult with their vets before feeding any to their dogs or other animals.