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Jerky treats linked to illness of 4 dogs

by Therese on November 8, 2007

in Dogs, Health, Pet Care Business News, Pet Food Recall, Pet Health, Pets

20071108jerkytreats.jpgJerky treats are in the news again (or is it still?). This time they have been linked to illnesses in at least four pets in the Denver area.

Several weeks ago, Johanna Ohlsson noticed her dog, Emma, was eating less but drinking more. About 10 days ago, the dog stopped eating.

By that time, the 6-year-old dog’s weight had dropped to 19 pounds from 24 pounds.

“When we could encourage her to eat a little bit, she vomited,” said Ohlsson, 51, a Niwot resident.

Tests at a veterinarian’s office Oct. 29 produced curious results. Glucose and proteins were found in Emma’s urine, but those values were normal in her blood, said Tricia Hartwig, a veterinarian with Tender Loving Care in Longmont. The results indicated Fanconi syndrome, an inherited disease affecting kidney function, known to occur only in Basenji dogs, she said. Emma is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Hartwig consulted with Dr. Ellen Miller, an internal medicine specialist at Flatiron Veterinary Clinic, who said those symptoms have recently been connected to pet jerky treats made in China. Smaller breeds seem to be the most affected.

Ohlsson had fed Emma Smokehouse brand treats, including chicken poppers, chicken tenders and duck tenders, she said.


Flatiron Veterinary Clinic recently treated at least three dogs with symptoms linked to the jerky treats. Prause said she recognized the symptoms after receiving a warning through a veterinary internal medicine specialty listserve.

Prause said there’s no treatment to reverse the process, except to stop feeding the dog the suspected jerky treats and keep the dogs hydrated, which sometimes requires intravenous therapy.

“The signs are nonspecific and may seem pretty mild and not make them think that they need vet care right away, but if they have been feeding them the treats, I would seek veterinary care because they could go into renal failure,” Prause said.


Bruce Richardson, a spokesman at PetSmart’s corporate headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz., said PetSmart pulled jerky treats when the American Veterinary Medical Association put out an advisory Sept. 13, but later restocked them when no one could directly link the dogs’ illnesses to the treats. The FDA, PetSmart and other laboratories have performed tests, and no one has been able to draw a direct link between the treats and the illnesses, so the jerky treats have been placed back on the shelves, he said.

Read the rest here.

I’ve seen too many stories, and received too many emails, about pets becoming ill after eating jerky treats. Many of the people who write me personally ask why there hasn’t been a recall and it always pains me to give my opinion on that. Honestly, I think the bottom line is the answer. Companies have to weight the cost of illnesses (or deaths) vs. revenue, and sadly it appears that money wins out. Granted, eating too much junk food can make us sick, and the same goes with our pets. But when people are saying they feed according to the directions on the package and their pets still get sick, it seems to me something isn’t right.

I used to give my dogs jerky treats now and then, and although “now and then” may not cause any problems, hearing stories like this are definitely enough for me to cross them off my shopping list.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy December 11, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Thank you for posting this article. Our pug Boo had the same symptoms as Emma. He went from 27 pounds in October to 20 pounds today. He was sick, not eating, and drinking copious amounts of water. We thought he had diabetes – the symptoms are the same. But our vet tested his blood and found no sugar – only sugar in the urine. We both did research and found the link to chicken jerky made in China. I pulled the bag of jerky treats out of the cupboard and sure enough – made in China. Thank you for making other dog owners aware of this problem. Hopefully, Boo will make a full recovery.


Therese December 11, 2007 at 10:21 pm

Amy, thank goodness you thought to do some research! I do hope you were able to intervene in time and that Boo does make a full recovery. I wish him all the best of health!


Johanna May 4, 2008 at 12:28 am

Hello–This is Johanna–and my dog Emma is the subject of this article. Since this article was published in our local paper, the Longmont Times Call, I have been contacted by people across the nation whose dogs have been sickened and who have died because of these products. Several of us have collaborated on a web site dedicated to this issue:


Our mission is to inform pet owners of the dangers, and to collect information to make this a priority for the FDA. If your dog has suffered because of jerky treats, please tell us your story.


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