Pet treats, in the form of dried meat jerky, have been sickening and killing pets (mostly dogs) since 2007, and FDA has just mounted a campaign to garner public support to identify the causative agent so they can stop these unfortunate events.  (See Why are jerky treats making pets sick).   All pet owners, veterinarians, animal health laboratories and businesses involved in the manufacture or sale of pet treats, can contribute to this effort by taking the following simple, but meaningful steps:

  • Give your pet treats, especially jerky treats, when you will be around to observe any ill-effects, which have reportedly occurred within hours after consumption.  (Limiting treats in this way should have no deleterious effects, from a nutritional standpoint.)


  • Watch for signs of gastrointestinal illness-anything from decreased appetite to more severe signs including, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.


  • If your pet exhibits these signs after eating a jerky treat, do not wait to see if they will feel better in a few hours-go to your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency clinic (for after-hours care).



  •   In New Jersey, contact the Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (AHDL), which serves as a member laboratory in FDA’s national animal laboratory network, for assistance with sample collection and testing.


  • In the worst-case scenario-if a pet dies-the AHDL can perform a necropsy (an animal autopsy) to provide a diagnosis, and share specimens and results with FDA and other affiliated laboratories.


  • Keep samples of the pet treats that may have caused the illness, and let your veterinarian known these are available for laboratory testing.


  • Pet treat manufacturers can maintain records of all ingredients used in production, and share records (and samples) with government officials, upon request, or if they suspect a problem.


  • Wash YOUR hands after handling the treats (this is recommended when handling any pet food items), but particularly in situations like this one, where the causative agent has not been identified, and humans can be at some risk from handling.

Working together and sharing information, in a crisis like this one, can help keep our pets healthy.