Benny died after consuming chicken jerky treats from Canyon Creek Ranch Brand, a company of Waggin' Train, LLC., i.e., Nestle Purina.
Despite repeated warnings by the FDA, chicken jerky products made in China are still on store shelves, and complaints that dogs are getting sick after eating them continue to roll in.
“I’m disappointed that I’m still seeing these cases,” said Dr. Cathy Langston, a veterinarian who heads the renal medicine service and hemodialysis unit at Animal Medical Center in Manhattan.
The FDA has logged more than 600 consumer complaints associated with chicken jerky products since issuing its first warning in November 2007.
Many dogs affected by toxic treats have been diagnosed with acquired Fanconi Syndrome, a kidney disease that’s characterized by a high level of sugar in the urine, Langston said, noting that the disease was once seen only in Basenjis.
But so far, nobody knows why.
Samples of chicken jerky treats collected from around the U.S. have been tested by the FDA and other laboratories for a wide variety of substances — from metals to chemicals — but scientists haven’t able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses.
Dr. Karyn Bischoff, a toxicologist at Cornell Veterinary School, said she hasn’t found anything that could cause any of the health problems described in affected dogs.
The FDA did not say what 30 products it plans to test.
Upper West Sider Jeannette Scarpola believes Nestle Purina’s Waggin
’ Trains chicken jerky treats were responsible for violently sickening her pit bull Norman, and Lila, a shepherd/chow. Both dogs began vomiting blood and had bloody stools after eating the treats, which are made in China.
“We knew it was from the chicken because they both got very sick after eating it,” said Scarpola, who was shocked to find many similar complaints when she Googled the brand.
Nestle Purina spokesperson Keith Schopp said the Waggin’ Train treats are “safe to feed as directed” and noted that extensive testing hasn’t pegged a contaminant to any particular brand.
Some pet owners believe the tainted ingredient may not be limited to chicken.
Psychotherapist Carole Fudin’s 5-year-old Chihuahuas, Charo and The Cisco Kid, were both diagnosed with acquired Faconi syndrome soon after eating duck and sweet potato treats purchased at Petco. Fudin remembers the treats were made in China, but can’t remember the brand.
The FDA suggests keeping the packaging of any suspicious product.
Meanwhile, thousands of signatures have been collected on at least three petition sites that are calling for the FDA to recall all chicken jerky treats made in China.
But the FDA does not issue recalls for pet food products unless a contaminant is identified. Instead, it’s up to the manufacturers to issue a voluntary recall. So far, none have done so.
Still, Langston and other experts warn consumers to purchase only treats made in the U.S.
But that can also be tricky.
In that case, she recommends staying away from any product that doesn’t list the source on its website or try verifying with the company.
Health signs in your dog that may be associated with bad food products include decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, increased urine and thirst.
At http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints, you can find info on filing a complaint with the FDA.