If you’ve been keeping up with my twitter and facebook pages, you’ll notice I’ve been talking a lot about chicken jerky, or more specifically, chicken jerky from China. Since 2007, after 157 dogs became ill, the FDA has been issuing alerts about humans feeding dog specific chicken jerky (also described as tenders, strips, or treats) manufactured in China to their dogs. In the 2007 cases, there was a melamine (a compound that used to make things like fire-retardant fabric and the suspected cause of the 2007 pet food recalls) contamination causing over 95 dogs to become ill. In 2008, another FDA warning regarding chicken jerky was issued, this time involving dog illness cases in Australia. This time the warning also involved dental chews made from soy, corn, and rice. The link between the two? Being manufactured in China.
On November 18th, 2011, the most recent date, a third alert was issued. Within a year, complaints of dogs becoming ill after consuming Chinese manufactured chicken jerky had risen from 54 reports of illness in 2010 to 70 (and rising). There has yet to be found an actual cause for illnesses nor any recalls of any chicken jerky, tender, strips, or treat brands. The symptoms that the reported dogs have experienced are as follows: decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (often times bloody), increased consumption of water, and usually increased urination. Symptoms usually appear within hours to a day after feeding. These symptoms are linked to Fanconi Syndrome, a kidney disease commonly found in Basengis.
So where does that leave me and my fellow dogs who have a severe craving for chicken? The FDA strongly urges cutting back on how much chicken based treats you give your dog, going so far as to remind everyone that “chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities” (there is some speculation, though not confirmed, that regular consumption of chicken jerky is the cause). My suggestion, and one that should carry into not only the chicken jerky, but also in every facet of your dog’s diet, stop buying treats made in China. It has become clear, especially after the pet food recalls of 2007, that pet food and treats coming out of China are bad news. It is wiser, then, to purchase treats and food (especially chicken jerky treats) from companies who only manufacture in either the United States or Canada (or if you’re not a North American reader, from your home country). My chicken jerky of choice? TriPom Chews. Not only do they use 100% USDA Grade A, restaurant quality whole chicken and turkey breast, but they are also made in my home state of Maine.
If you’re going to be purchasing chicken jerky for your dog, make sure to really read the label. If it says “Made in China,” skip it! Look for a treat that is “Made in the USA” (and make sure it says “made” and not just “packaged.” That’s a tricky way some treat companies try to fool consumers). And, if you’re dog has eaten chicken jerky and is experiencing the symptoms I mentioned above, call your veterinarian.
Happy tail wags.
P.S. There has also been a misinformed rumor spreading around the internet (mostly on facebook) about a Blue Buffalo recall in connection to the chicken jerky alerts. As I stated earlier, as the FDA is still investigating everything, there have been no recalls of any products. In fact, none of Blue Buffalo’s products are made in China, it’s all made and sourced in the US. Blue Buffalo has released a statement regarding the rumors that you can read here.