Rising number of animal deaths from Jerky Treats

A NEW FDA report claims that 360 dogs and one cat have died in the last 18 months, after eating chicken jerky treats made in China.

Currently there are 2,200 reports of illnesses linked to the treats – the deaths are included in that number. There is no geographic pattern to the illnesses and deaths – cases have been reported from all 50 states and 6 Canadian provinces.

Treats Involved

Chicken jerky (treats, tenders, and strips), but others include duck, sweet potato, and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, or yams.

In the past 10 years, there has been a dramatic increase in importation of pet food from China. It is estimated that nearly 86 million pounds of pet food came from China in 2011. Pet treats, including jerky pet treats, are currently considered the fastest growing segment in the pet food market.

No Known Cause

“The ongoing global investigation is complex, multifaceted and includes a wide variety of experts at the FDA including toxicologists, epidemiologists, veterinary researchers, forensic chemists, microbiologists, field investigators and senior agency officials,” the report says.

Signs of Illness

FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products:

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

If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi-like syndrome (increased glucose).

P.S. The largest growing segment of the pet food industry is pet treats, and China is an inexpensive way to source, and manufactur inexpensive treats.

With poor quality control.

And clearly MORE emphasis on profit than the health of our dogs or cats

My suggestions

1. Avoid ALL jerky/false meat treats, especially those from China

2. Avoid MOST commercial treats- they in general are of questionable nutritional value. Think of them like chocolate bars..if they can sit on a shelf for an undefined period of time, just how ‘good’ can they be. Then there are the chemical additives, artificial colors, flavors and potentially harmful preservatives.

September 2012

Dog and Cat Health Problems Related to Pet Food

  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Dental disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Urinary infections and crystals
  • Hyperthroidism
  • Chronic vomiting and diarrohea
  • Immune disorders
  • Diabetes and pancreatitis
  • Seizures
  • Liver Disease
  • Cancer

There are many dietary risk factors that are potentially contributing to cancer.  These include smoke “flavour”, Ethoxyquin, artifical food colour, sodium nitrite, sodium hexametaphosphate, propylene glycol, 1-alanine, artificial flavours, petrolatum, BHA, TBHQ.

New Zealanders spend over $1.6 billion a year on their pets including food.  Over 80% of owners purchase their pet food from supermarkets where the cheaper brands are sold.  I have been into supermarkets and pet stores and looked at the ingredients on the packaging.  I wouldn’t know what half the ingredients are – there are so many additives!  Some of them don’t even mention what preservatives that are used.  I was shocked to read that most of them had artificial colourings and flavours not to mention the meat by-products!

As a consequence of all this research and reading – I NO LONGER feed any of my pets commercial pet food.  My 2 cats are fed a completely raw diet and my 3 dogs have a mixture of raw and cooked (although these are not fed together).  I do this to give them some variety.  And I am happy to say they are all thriving on this and will live longer and healthier lives without processed foods.

I also no longer use chemical flea treatments on my pets as they can reduce life span by 25%.  And as the fleas are becoming more and more immune to the chemicals used, the manufacturers are making them stronger every year.  If they are destroying the fleas etc. what are they actually doing to your pets’ immune system as they enter their bloodstream.  I use alternative flea parasite treatments that do not cause harm to my pets.

It actually makes me ill when I think about the food that I have fed my pets in the past and the toxic chemicals that I have been given them unknowingly.

I believe that my trips to the vet will be less frequent as what they are eating is definitely contributing to a healthier immune system.

*However I must add if any of my pets did become seriously ill or if there was an emergency with any of them I would definitely take them to see the veterinarian.

I am now offering a service to pet owners that includes healthy meals and treats to provide a more nutritional diet that is not expensive – delivered to their homes.  I just want to provide their pets with food that will help them live longer, happier and healthier lives not to mention save money on pet bills. 

There are a few people out there doing something similar but my focus is on fresh ingredients and not frozen and I do include vegetables and fresh herbs as well as necessary supplements required for good health – and there are no additives, preservatives or artificial colourings.

August 2012

Pet Food & Pet Health

What your pet eats is more important to preventing disease and maintaining a strong immune system than anything else is.

Artificial ingredients can trigger an immune response that can make your pet sick.  An example is a food allergy.  Your pet may react to chemical preservatives or to food colouring and this can cause the immune system to release a cell called histamine.  This in turn can produce vomiting, diarrhoea and itching.

Antibodies are proteins that your pet produces to fight disease.  Your pet cannot produce an adequate antibody response to disease when she is eating poor quality, unnatural food.  Of all the things that you can do to prevent disease in your pet, diet is the most important.

Many of the chronic diseases we see today are directly attributable to poor quality food, or to vaccines.  And cancer has become the leading cause of death in both dogs and cats.  50% of dogs and over 33% of cats will die from cancer.  Most disturbing is the increasing incidence of cancer in younger and younger pets.

Without a doubt, nutrition is key to the health of our pets.  Feeding a natural healthy diet is one of if not the single most important changes that you as a pet owner can make for the long term health of your pet.

Pets today are fed highly processed artificial foods composed of unnatural ingredients:

  • Soymeal
  • Artificial colourings and flavourings
  • BHA and ethoxyquin which are harmful perservatives.  Some pet food manufacturers don’t need to list these under “ingredients” as they may be contained in products that have come from “other sources”.
  • Meat content is often composed of by-products which can be anything from cancerous tissues to diseased organs that is “not fit for human consumption”.

If we would not eat these things why should we expect our beloved pets to do so?

Commercial pet food does not always provide all of the nutrients that dogs and cats need to be healthy at different times in their lives.  Much of it contains nothing more than cheap grains (i.e. starch, corn), meat by-products, filler, chemical additives and preservatives and in many cases, toxins.  Even if your pet’s food doesn’t contain contaminants, it does not necessarily contain everything your cat and dog needs to stay healthy.  More than likely it contains just what pets need to “get by”.

If you were to pick up a can of pet food 20 years ago, chances are you would see that the main ingredient was an animal protein.  These days, the main ingredients are typically grain and fat which is essentially just filler.  They contain very little of the vitamins and minerals that actually make your pet thrive.

Grains have become prevalent because the high carbohydrate content provides cheap calories – animal protein costs more so to cut costs, they increased the amount of grain.  In addition, grains assist in binding ingredients to make it easier to form kibble or dry food.

  • “No Grains” does not necessarily mean no carbohydrates.  Often you will see potato, and in other cases a starch such as Tapioca is added (and this particular ingredient has been found to contain Hydrogen Cyanide).
  • The “Human Grade” claim.  Most pet food ingredients – for most manufacturers, including some of the cheapest brands – come from human food processing facilities.  This means that just because some of the ingredients are “human grade” does not necessarily mean it is a better food for your pet.
  • Natural Preservatives.  It is important that the food is preserved naturally, but Ethoxyquin, a toxic chemical preservative, has been found in some foods that claim to be “natural”.
  • There is no such thing as 100% Complete.  We really do not know everything that should be in pet food.  I do know that variety is important and that common sense tells me that all nutrition cannot come from a bag.
  • Corn, wheat and soy have been linked to allergic reactions in dogs and cats and are not easy to digest.  The primary ingredient in many dry commercial pet foods is not protein but a carbohydrate.
  • Artificial color and chemical preservatives like BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin and propylene glycol provide no nutritional value and have been associated with toxic side effects – the most important one of these being cancer.
  • Animal by-products.  These include more than just the “extra” parts derived from slaughtered animals (such as lungs, spleen, kidneys and brain).  A few of these unsavory ingredients include:  meat and poultry by-products unfit for human consumption (infested with worms, diseased products), necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, egg shells, infertile and unhatched eggs, culled, dried and ground chicks, heads, feed and viscera hydrolyzed poultry feather (indigestible protein, but still considered protein), hydrolyzed hair, spray-dried animal blood, dehydrated food waste, artificially dried animal and vegetable waste, dehydrated paunch products, dried poultry and swine waste, un-dried processed animal waste, companion animals from clinics, pounds, shelters, dead stock and zoo animals, frozen meat marked as “unfit for human consumption”, rendered and “denatured” (a process using crude carbolic acid, fuel oil or citronella) slaughterhouse products, restaurant and supermarket refuse.  Production animals as well as road kill that cannot be buried at roadside!