Beware of Chicken Jerky Treats from China

The FDA is continuing to caution pet owners about potential problems from chicken jerky treats originating from China.  The first warnings were issues in 2007 and 2008 with a drop in the number of cases in 2010, however, more than 350 cases have been reported to the FDA in 2011.  See report on MSNBC

The dogs affected from the treats are showing symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Some dogs have also exhibited signs related to a decrease in their kidney function by drinking more water and an increase in their urination.

There was not a specific brand of treats cited, but all complaints have been on chicken jerky treats obtained from China.

Most of the dogs that have had problems are the smaller dogs that have eaten the treats within a few weeks before becoming sick. A lot of these dogs consumed the treats as a large part of their diet. Some pets had upset stomachs and some suffered renal failure. Most dogs have recovered with treatment, but there are some unconfirmed cases of a few dogs dying from their illness.

Treats, especially jerky treats should only be fed occasionally and not as a major portion of your pet’s diet. If your pet does experience vomiting or diarrhea, please contact your veterinarian for diagnostics and treatment. Especially with the smaller dogs, they can become quite dehydrated within a short period of time and may need intravenous fluids until their tiny stomachs can tolerate food again. Be sure to mention any treats your dog may have consumed or any change of diet to your veterinarian.
If you suspect a problem stemming from a treat or pet food, you and your veterinarian can report it to

Holiday Foods May Land your Pet in the ER

The Christmas holiday is one of great joy, family reunions and a lot of celebration.  But, for some pet loving families, this happy time of year quickly turns to sadness and distress because of a medical emergency.  Here are some very real stories of holiday emergencies and some tips on how to avoid a trip to the animal ER!

By:  Dr. Debra Garrison, Veterinary News Network

Ginger is a feisty Dachshund.  Her family enjoys her intelligence, her attitude and her zest for life.  It also seems that Ginger enjoys turkey and will go to great lengths to satisfy her cravings!

Dr. Lori Teller of Houston relates how little 15 lb Ginger was able to wrangle a 20 lb turkey off of the counter and consume the entire thing, including the plastic wrapper and strings.  “The diarrhea she had was FOUL…no pun intended,” says Dr. Teller, “we had to open the windows and every door of the clinic to handle the smell!”  Thankfully, Ginger survived her ordeal without missing a beat, but her story does point out the importance of monitoring what your pet has access to during holiday activities.

Ginger was very lucky.  Emergency veterinarians from across the country can all recount cases where pets eat too much of the wrong type of food and develop a severe condition called pancreatitis.  Dr. Jennifer Hennessey, an emergency veterinarian at Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists, says that she treats more pancreatitis cases during this time of year than any other season.

Ham are often a cause of pancreatitis in petsPancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas.  When pets consume foods that are extremely fatty (like the skin of turkey or chicken), this can lead to inflammation.  Enzymes normally released by the pancreas can cause both local and systemic effects.  Although some cases are mild, Dr. Hennessey recalls far too many situations where the pet died from this condition.  “The sad thing is, many of these deaths could be prevented by taking simple precautions,” says Hennessey.  This includes immediate examination by a veterinarian!

Pets with pancreatitis can quickly become painful in their abdomen and often have persistent vomiting. Certain breeds of dogs, dogs on specific medications and pets with immune problems are more prone to this condition.  This is especially true with cats. Veterinarians will recommend blood work and several days of hospitalization and treatments for pets with pancreatitis.



But, it’s not only the skin of the turkey or any excessively fatty foods that can cause problems.  Obstructions and perforations of the intestines from eating the bones of the bird are very common. Emergency technician, Sonya King of Indianapolis remarks that even veterinary personnel are not immune to this situation.  Her own Bull Mastiff, Capone, got into the trash and ate a turkey carcass.  X-rays revealed many bones in his GI tract but, thankfully, Capone recovered without major problems.

Of course, the holiday bird is not the only food issue at this time of year.  With an abundance of chocolates and even sweet foods containing Xylitol, these wonderful holiday treats can cause serious problems.  Chocolates can cause heart issues or seizures and xylitol treats can set off potentially fatal blood sugar crashes or liver failure in dogs.

Other holiday favorites, like rum balls, eggnog or even fruitcakes might contain alcohol.  Intoxicated pets can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Onions, garlic and spices can be bad for petsGrapes, raisins, currents, macadamia nuts, extremely salty foods or foods prepared with a lot of onions and/or garlic are all potentially dangerous as well.

Use pet friendly treats like green beans, carrots or even a handful of dog kibble if you want to share your holiday feast.  Let your guests know the family rules about sharing from the table so that friends don’t unknowingly cause a problem.

If you can’t trust your pet, or maybe your dinner guests, it might be best to let your pet have his own room during mealtime.  When dinner is over, be sure to remove all temptations from tables or counters and place all trash behind a secure door. Far too many pets are drawn to the smell and raid the trash can when the owner is not watching.