Chicken jerky treats may be the cause of pet illnesses

EUGENE, Ore. -- Since 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received approximately 2,200 reports of pet illnesses which may be related to the consumption of jerky pet treats.

The majority of complaints involve chicken jerky treats, tenders and strips, but others include duck, sweet potato and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits or sweet potatoes.

The majority of the complaints involve dogs, but cats have also been affected. Over the past year and a half, reports have contained information on 360 canine deaths and one cat death.

Dog owners say they're very particular about what they feed their pets. "I try to get holistic food and wheat and fillers as much as possible," said Mary Hindman.

Dog owner Pete Frost doesn't feed his dog meat. "She's really healthy. We don't eat meat at home, so the chicken jerky controversy hasn't crept into our house," he said.

Dr. Jason Kimball is a veterinarian at Edgewood Animal Clinic in Eugene. Kimball hasn't personally seen any dogs with the illness, but he has advice for pet owners.

"The biggest thing I can recommend people to feed their pets is a high quality that doesn't use byproducts," said Kimball.

Kimball also recommends feeding your pet food from a reputable brand.

"Consult your veterinarian with your animal. That's gonna be your best all around bet as far as finding good food for your animal," said Kimball.

Although the FDA has been actively investigating reports of the illness, no definitive cause has been determined. Symptoms include gastrointestinal signs including vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes with blood and/or mucus, and can involve severe signs including pancreatitis or gastrointestinal bleeding.