“Imported Chinese jerky?” you might be saying. “Who would buy their pet any food from a country whose safety standards would shock Upton Sinclair?” Lots of well-meaning Americans are feeding their dogs and cats imported treats. Every year, the United States imports 86 million pounds of pet food products from China. Some of that food is jerky that’s packaged and sold under brand names you may recognize: Waggin’ Train (Purina), Canyon Creek (Purina), and Milo’s Kitchen (Del Monte) are the most common. Now thousands of pet owners claim that these products may have sickened or even killed their animals, and demand recalls and justice. The only problem is that the FDA can’t find any proof of harmful chemicals or pathogens in the meat.
The FDA has been investigating possible jerky-related illnesses since 2007, and if there is something in the products harming animals, current technology can’t detect it. Their newest advice: dogs don’t need to eat jerky to be healthy. If you must feed jerky, look out for symptoms: loss of appetite, diarrhea, and increased drinking and urination. If you notice these symptoms, stop feeding treats and get to a vet.
Check labels carefully: most of the treats at discount stores and even at your favorite big-box pet store are imported from the Land of Melamine. Even those in packages emblazoned with American flags and cowboys.
(Full disclosure here: My family believes, but cannot prove, that our dog died of kidney failure in 2010 after she had been eating treats for months that were made in China, then had similar symptoms to the animals the FDA is now investigating.)