Chicken Jerky Update

You may recall that at the end of 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned dog owners that they should be aware of a “potential association between development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats.”

At the time the warning was issued, reports had come in citing that at least 95 dogs had become ill, possibly due to consumption of chicken jerky. However, after multiple tests the FDA was unable to identify any cause for the illnesses, so it is not surprising that (1) people kept feeding their dog’s chicken jerky and (2) more dogs got sick.

Then, in November of 2011, the FDA issued yet another warning stating that there was a potential connection between dogs that were falling ill and chicken jerky that was being imported from China.

Common symptoms included:

Diarrhea – with or without blood
Loss of appetite
Kidney failure (increased thirst and urination are typical)

Some dogs that have ingested chicken jerky and develop these symptoms have recovered. Others have not been so lucky.

To date, more than 600 dogs have become ill, and the FDA is still stumped as to the cause, but on March 13, 2012 reported:

A log of complaints collected from pet owners and veterinarians contains references to at least three popular brands of jerky treats that may be associated with kidney failure and other serious ailments, according to internal Food and Drug Administration documents obtained by

Of 22 “Priority 1” cases listed by the FDA late last year, 13 cited Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., the records show.

Another three listed Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The rest listed single brands or no brand.

Priority 1 cases are those in which the animal is aged 11 or younger and medical records that document illness are available, an FDA spokeswoman said. In many cases, samples of the suspect treats also are collected.

The FDA is encouraging anyone who has a sick dog that has eaten chicken jerky to lodge a complaint and send in a sample of the product the dog ingested. The more complaints and samples they receive the better their chances are of making the connection and preventing future illnesses and deaths.

Pet owners are rightly up in arms about the situation. Multiple petitions have been started to demand a ban, recall, and warning labels on chicken jerky treats imported from China. Concerned lawmakers are also getting involved and encouraging the FDA to release the results of 153 tests on chicken jerky treats that are still pending. Hopefully the increased pressure will lead to a resolution of this situation in the not too distant future.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Posted in: Pets.
Last Modified: March 28, 2012