DENVER - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating thousands of cases of pet illnesses and deaths linked to jerky pet treats.
The FDA said they've received more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats since 2007. Nearly all of the treats were imported from China.
The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats and three people, the FDA said.
The treats are blamed for more than 1,000 dog deaths.
The FDA broke down the reports by symptoms:
- 60 percent of the cases reported gastrointestinal/liver disease.
- 30 percent reported kidney or urinary disease.
- 10 percent of complaints included various other signs such as neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms.
About 15 percent of the kidney or urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has been associated with this investigation.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention primarily tracks cases of human illness, FDA has requested their expertise in collaborating on a study.
"The goal of the study is to compare the foods eaten by the sick dogs (cases) to those eaten by the dogs that did not get sick (controls), in order to determine whether sick dogs are eating more jerky pet treats than healthy dogs are," officials stated.
The study is still ongoing, and FDA will share results when they are completed.
The FDA continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet, and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians, both prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets.