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Are U.S.-Made Jerky Treats Now Making Dogs Sick?

Dogs who ate the treats are turning up sick, and vets think they know why: While the products are from the U.S., all of the ingredients may not be.

Michael Leaverton  |  Apr 17th 2015


After years of warnings and complaints against jerky treats made in China — and the decision of Petco and PetSmart to finally pull the products from store shelves — we thought we were through with the jerky-treat mess.

It turns out, we’re not. Jerky treats made in the U.S. are also now making dogs sick. Vets at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine are diagnosing dogs with acquired Fanconi disease after they ate jerky treats made in the U.S. and got sick, according to Vin News Service.

What’s behind it? Well, the working theory is that while the jerky treats themselves are made in the U.S., some of the ingredients involved in making them are from outside the country.

Siobhan DeLancey, of the FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said, “We have found some of these products may contain ingredients from outside of the U.S. FDA continues its investigation into these, as well as other, jerky treats potentially linked to illnesses.”

As incredible as it sounds, it seems like some companies are touting made-in-the-U.S. jerky treats — and benefiting from all the negative press that China-made treats have been receiving — while using ingredients from other countries. And the companies might not even know it, as they could be buying their raw ingredients to make the treats from other U.S. companies who are using foreign-made ingredients.

One of those suspected companies is Spot Farms, which is currently facing inquiry after a two-year-old Yorkshire Terrier turned up sick after eating the company’s jerky treats. Dr. Bonnie Werner, an internal medicine specialist at Animal Emergency Medical Center in Torrance, California, says the dog has acquired Fanconi disease, according to Vin News Service, and said she has been in contact with the company.

After being brushed off by a customer service rep, who just kept repeating that all Spot Farms’ chickens were from Kentucky and that all of the other ingredients were sourced from U.S. companies, Werner spoke to Vin News Service, who contacted the company and received more information.

Julie DeYoung, a spokesperson for Perdue Farms Inc., which owns Spot Farms, said in a written statement:

“We are deeply saddened to hear of this dog’s illness. We … [do not know] the circumstances regarding the dog’s illness or whether our treats were a factor. What we do know is that we have never received any reports of serious illness since we launched Spot Farms dog treats in 2013.”

Later she told Vin News Service in a phone call, “We’re gathering information that will hopefully allow us to evaluate whether our treats are the cause of this illness. We’re highly motivated to understand what happened here, and what role, if any, our treats played.”

Dr. Urs Giger, director of the Metabolic Genetics Screening Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who has been investigating Fanconi for decades, highlights the difficulties the new cases put on consumers who want to buy jerky treats.

“When you’re looking at pet jerky-treat products, and I’ve checked shelves at stores, the label does not necessarily say where it came from,” Giger told Vin News Service. “It [identifies] the company but not where it was manufactured or where the ingredients came from.”

He says to take the “made in the U.S.” label with a grain of salt.

“One would have to check on that very carefully, as manufacturers may have sourced ingredients through third parties.”

Via Vin News Service

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