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This article was published 23/10/2013 (1365 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration is trying to solve a stubborn mystery surrounding the deaths of almost 600 dogs that ate jerky treats, and officials are hoping pet owners and veterinarians can help them figure out what may be causing the illnesses.
The problem appears to be tied to dog pet treats made in China, the FDA said, though investigators haven't found a certain cause. The FDA says it has received reports of illnesses in 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the United States since 2007, and 580 dogs died. The pet treats were sold under a wide variety of brand names.
The complaints were sent in by pet owners, some of them unsure of the cause of their pet's illness. But many others were sent in by veterinarians who have seen repeated cases of kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding and a rare kidney disorder, the FDA said.
FDA veterinarian Martine Hartogensis said the agency is appealing to pet owners and veterinarians to send them more information on animals who may have got sick after eating the treats. Pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea, among other symptoms, within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes or dried fruit.
"This has been one of the most mysterious and elusive issues we've had to investigate," Hartogensis said. She said the investigation has been particularly complicated because researchers haven't been able to pin down what ingredient may be causing the problem and because many of the treats and their ingredients are imported.
Dr. Richard Goldstein of the Animal Medical Center in New York said he has been investigating the illnesses since they appeared to begin in 2007, and he is still treating dogs that seem to suffer from the mysterious condition.
The FDA has issued previous warnings, and a number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January after a New York state lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. The products removed from the market then included Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky Treats and Chicken Grillers, made by Del Monte, and Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch dog treats, made by Nestlé Purina.
But others remain on store shelves, and FDA doesn't want to conduct a recall without a definitive cause.
-- The Associated Press