Nearly 600 Pet Deaths Tied to Jerky Treats

By Amy Sinatra Ayres

iStockPhotoIllnesses in 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have been tied to eating jerky pet treats since 2007, and there have been 580 related deaths. But despite conducting more than 1,200 tests on the treats, the Food and Drug Administration hasn't been able to pinpoint the cause of the illnesses.

Although the pace of the illnesses seems to have slowed, the agency is asking pet owners and their veterinarians to provide additional information to help their investigation, including blood, urine and tissue samples from affected animals.

"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," says CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D. The FDA continues to caution pet owners about giving their dogs and cats jerky treats, which can be made from chicken, duck, sweet potato, and/or dried fruit.

Related: How to Keep Your Pet's Food Safe (and Recognize When It's Not)

Most of the treats that have been linked to illness were made in China. There has been a decrease in reports of illness since a number of jerky treats were recalled in January after a lab reported finding evidence of low levels of several drugs in the products, but the FDA doesn't believe these drugs were causing the illnesses. If your pet becomes sick after eating jerky, the FDA recommends contacting your vet. - Read more from the FDA

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