The FDA is sending out a warning that what you feed your pets could be making them sick or even kill them.
The FDA is telling veterinarians to watch for illnesses in dogs and cats that could be linked to jerky treats. While no specific toxin has been pinpointed, the FDA says 3,600 dogs and ten cats are believed to be sickened by the treats; nearly 600 have died.
Mike McIntyre spends his days caring for dogs and cats at Sioux Nation Pet Clinic in Sioux Falls. He's not shocked by the warning about a potential illness linked to jerky treats, especially since the issue is traced back to manufacturing plants in China.
"After the melamine scare in 2007, the FDA was putting agents over in China to try to verify pet food, but even at that time they commented that this is a drop in the bucket, we're going to try to watch it. But there's 1.3 billion people here, they're shipping stuff all over, we're not going to be able to keep an eye on everything that is going on," McIntyre said.
The FDA investigation involves several different brands and despite more than a thousand tests and inspections dating back to 2007, the exact cause isn't known. That's why this Sioux Falls veterinarian says jerky treats should be avoided.
"What I'm recommending clients do is use the canned food. Instead of using the treats so much, take some of the canned dog food or the cat food, put it in the fridge, scoop up a little bit and that can definitely be their treat," McIntyre said.
McIntyre says this jerky scare is a good reminder for all pet owners to always watch what their condition and what they eat.
"And when your poor pet starts not feeling good, you're thinking, well, did he maybe just eat something, maybe I need to just give them a little time, like a kid when they start getting sick, you give them a little time. Unfortunately if they're going to be going into kidney failure because of some toxin in there, you don't have a lot of time to act before then and it may be too late before you even realize it," McIntyre said.
Which is good to keep in mind, because for many, pets aren't just animals, they're family.
The FDA warning lists several symptoms to watch far that can appear within hours of eating the jerky in question. Those include decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea.
The FDA has also released guidelines for pet owners and what to do if you believe your pet is sick from a food product.
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