Jerky treats linked to pet deaths

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) Nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened and it's all linked to an outbreak of illnesses stemming from jerky dog treats.

It's a jerky treat mystery, despite animal illnesses and deaths, the FDA can't figure out what ingredient in the dog treats is causing the problem. As a result, these dog treats cannot be taken off store shelves in a recall.

These products are manufactured in China and this has been an ongoing issue since 2007, when pet owners started reporting their animals were suffering gastrointestinal and kidney problems after eating popular jerky treats. The FDA can't put their finger on what is causing these pets to perish and it's important for you to know what to look out for.

Dick Moore is like many pet parents who like to give their dogs treats.

“They love them and we like to give it to them,” said Moore.

Dr. Mark Ryan of the Redstone Veterinary Hospital says one thing is certain:

“They're not sure what is in the chicken treats that's causing the kidney problems, but they know it's correlated to the Chinese chicken jerky treats," said Dr. Ryan of the Redstone Veterinary Hospital.

Despite over 1,200 tests conducted by the FDA, the administration hasn't been able to pin-point the cause, leaving the culprit on store shelves and possibly in your cupboard.

“It’s out there and they're still being shipped in so check the packaging, make sure it's made in the USA," said Dr. Ryan.

According to the FDA, decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea after pets consume the jerky treats could be a sign they've been infected. Avoiding treats is another option, and Dr. Ryan has a simple trick to satisfy your pet when it comes to offering them a tasty reward.

“Get a little special bowl and put some of their dry kibble in it and put it at the treat station and just use that because it's all how you sell it and they'll love it," said Dr. Ryan.

That's exactly what Megan Burnette does when her two dogs want something special.

“If you stick it in your pocket and pull it out, it's a treat, you don't have to use biscuits or whatever treats that there are," said Burnette.

And Moore is going to check his cupboard to make sure he doesn't have any tainted treats.

“I think I would check that out and make sure that we don't have any treats made in China," said Moore.

Dogs aren't the only animals affected by outbreak, 10 cats have reportedly died as well.

The FDA is reaching out to Veterinarians and consumers to report any complaints and sick animals.

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