(ABC 5/WOI-TV) – The Food and Drug Administration is appealing to pet owners for information as it struggles to solve a mysterious outbreak of illness and deaths among pets that ate jerky treats manufactured in China.
In a notice to consumers and veterinarians published Tuesday, the agency said it has linked illnesses from jerky pet treats to 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007. About 580 of those pets have died.
Josh Garrett is a co-owner of Jett and Monkey’s dog boutique in the East Village. He wants to help people make good decisions for their dogs.
“People just don’t know,” he said. “They really don’t know.”
He has one main rule for what treats and foods sit on the shelves at Jett and Monkey’s.
“It’s one of those things where if I don’t give it to my own dog, I don’t want to give it to yours,” he said.
He looks at every label, but not just what’s in it, also where that food is from.
“The one country we really do look at for food and treats is China,” he said.
Vets say it takes more than checking the bag though, to find out just where each treat is from.
“It may not say on the bag, ‘from China’ where as some of the ingredients may be from there,” said Dr. Nancy Peterson of the Ingersoll Animal Hospital.
Scientists don’t know why the jerky treats from China have made so many dogs sick, but Dr. Peterson said there’s one certain way to avoid it.
“Treats are treats. They’re not a necessary part of pet’s diet,” she said.
For those who disagree, Garrett said he has several safe alternatives.
He researches each company and food before buying. The ones that meet his standards sometimes come with a hefty price tag, but one that he said is well worth it.
“The more you put in to your body that’s healthy, usually the longer you’re going to live. It’s the same for our dogs.”
The FDA is asking that you hold on to any treats that may have made your dog sick in case they would like to test those treats.
The AP contributed to this report.