Warnings on chicken jerky treats imported from China were first issued in 2007, after more than 70 complaints were received involving almost l00 sick dogs, and by the end of the year that number grew to more than 150. A year later the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) issued an update that included chicken jerky products from China. Updates have been released on a regular basis and just last week another warning was issued, and according to the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) there are new reports of health problems linked to sweet potato treats that are also imported from China. There are also suspected problems with imported pork treats.
Symptoms may show up within hours or days after a treat is eaten and include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination. Please do not feed your dogs ANY treats made in China, and keep in mind that although the problem treats are usually identified as “jerky” treats, they also go by many other names, including strips, chips, twists, and others. One of the biggest frustrations for pet caregivers trying to avoid poisoning their dog is that many pet treat package labels claim the product was made in the U.S., when in reality one or more ingredients were imported from China. On close inspection of some chicken jerky treats labeled “Made in the USA, the small print shows that the chicken actually came from China.
Country of origin labeling laws require only that products be put together here to make the made-in-the-U.S. claim. As long as ingredients are cooked, mixed, or otherwise processed in this country, the food can be legally identified as being made here. Needless to say, this marketing ploy to instill confidence in consumers has had some absolutely tragic results. To protect your own dog, avoid feeding any pet food or treat made in China, and this goes for any treat you aren’t l00 percent sure originated ENTIRELY in this country.
We suggest that you don’t buy any commercial treats…. most of them are unhealthy. Instead make your own biscuits!
If you want to offer chicken jerky, make your own:
- Buy some boneless chicken breasts and slice them in long, thin strips—the thinner the better.
- Place the strips on a greased cookie sheet and bake them for at least three hours at 175 degrees.
- The low temperature dries the chicken slowly and the strips wind up nice and chewy.
- After the strips have cooled, store them in plastic bags or airtight container, or freeze them.
Consider making your own sweet potato treats at home also.
- Wash the sweet potatoes (or yams) thoroughly, and then slice them nice and thin.
- Arrange on greased baking sheet, and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
- Let them cool, and store in airtight container.
Both of these homemade treats are easy to make but no matter what the treat, it should be fed occasionally, never as a substitute for a balanced, appropriate diet for your dog. Please play it safe. Buy only food and treats made entirely in the U.S. This won’t remove all risk of winding up with a tainted product, but it will certainly improve your chances of keeping your pet well!.