More than 1,140 dogs have died after eating jerky pet treats, out of 6,200 cases of jerky-related canine illness reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2007 to December 31, 2015. FDA recently released those figures in an update on its continuing investigation into animal illnesses and deaths related to jerky-style treats.

In that same time span, FDA received approximately 5,200 complaints of illness associated with consumption of chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats. The illness reports also involved 26 cats and three people. Most cases involved products imported from China, but some resulted from treats labeled as US-made.

Many affected animals showed symptoms of a rare kidney disease, Fanconi-like syndrome (FLS), which is normally genetic. Reports of jerky-related FLS cases have declined in recent years. Between May 2014 and September 2014, FDA received 270 case reports. However, only 200 reports were filed since the agency’s last update, which covered September 2014 through the end of 2015.

During the investigation, FDA detected antimicrobial and antiviral residues in an imported duck jerky product and added duck jerky products to the testing system in 2015. As a result of this testing, FDA revised its existing Import Alert in October 2015 to include certain poultry jerky pet treats.

However, the exact cause for these cases of FLS has not been identified. FDA continues to investigate the cause of these illnesses along with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, an FDA-affiliated group of animal health laboratories. Lab analysis looks for pathogenic bacteria, toxic metals, radioactivity, pesticides and many other potentially harmful materials.

The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet. FDA encourages pet ownders to consult with their veterinarians if they notice symptoms in their pets, including:

  • decreased appetite and/or activity,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea, sometimes with blood or mucus, or
  • increased water consumption and/or urination.

Pet owners can report if their animal becomes ill after consuming a jerky pet treat through the FDA’s Safety Reporting Portal or by phone to a local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.