Stop giving your pet food from China, unless you don’t mind them dying

3000 dogs and cats have become ill, and nearly 600 have died, in the past several years, because of jerky pet treats imported from China, and not just chicken jerky.

And they keep on dying.  And we keep on importing it.

Things have gotten so bad that the FDA is now reaching out to the public for help in figuring out why food products imported from China seem to keep killing our pets.

At the same time, what does the FDA do?  Change the rules so that humans get more of their food products from China, particularly chicken, because when has chicken from China ever made anyone sick?  Oh that’s right, a lot (keep reading).

Kittens and puppies via Shutterstock

Kittens and puppies via Shutterstock

FDA appealing for help from veterinarians and public

In the new warnings and public appeals, the FDA says that since 2007 they’ve received around 3,000 reports of illnesses of dogs and cats associated with jerky products, mostly from China.  Of those, 580 died, and most were dogs.

Corgi puppy via Shutterstock.

Corgi puppy via Shutterstock.

As of September 24, 2013, FDA has received more than 3000 complaints of illness related to consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. The reports involve more than 3600 dogs, 10 cats and include more than 580 deaths.

In its latest public announcements, the FDA is asking veterinarians, and the public, for help in figuring out what is going on.  Things are so bad that the FDA basically seemed to suggest, between the lines, that people should stop feeding their pets treats all together:

 We also remind pet owners that treats are not needed for a balanced diet.

That’s a polite government-y way of saying ixnay on the eats-tray.

Among the signs of illness to look out for, per the FDA:

Watch your pet closely. Signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products are decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination.

Severe cases are diagnosed with pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, and kidney failure or the resemblance of a rare kidney related illness called Fanconi syndrome.

Signs of illness to look out for

One thing you can’t look out for, however, is whether the product you’re feeding your pet comes from China because manufacturers aren’t required to list such things, even though animals continue to die:

Mmm... chicken.... (PUNING, CHINA - MARCH 18: dirty chickens are fed at home garden, in Puning, Canton on March 18 2013. An H7N9 bird virus was first reported to have infected humans in 2013 in China. (Lewis Tse Pui Lung /

Mmm… chicken…. (PUNING, CHINA – MARCH 18: dirty chickens are fed at home garden, in Puning, Canton on March 18 2013. An H7N9 bird virus was first reported to have infected humans in 2013 in China. (Lewis Tse Pui Lung /

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, sweet potatoes, or yams.

Are there specific brands we should be concerned about?

The illnesses have been linked to many brands of jerky treats. The one common factor the cases share is consumption of a chicken or duck jerky treat or jerky-wrapped treat, mostly imported from China. Pet owners should be aware that manufacturers do not need to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products, so packages that do not state on the label that they are made in another country may still contain ingredients sourced from China or other countries that export to the U.S.

Chihuahua puppy via Shutterstock.

Chihuahua puppy via Shutterstock.

Well maybe it’s time that law changed.  And maybe it’s time that US manufacturers of pet products started listing, definitively, where their products come from.

Or at the very list, start putting on their labels “100% made and manufactured in the USA, not China.)”

Oh, but the the fun has only begun.  Guess who is going to be preparing chicken for import (or re-importation) to America for human consumption?

Yep, you guessed it, China.

I just checked my dog’s treats: China

I just checked Sasha’s treats.  The big-name-brand jerky I bought for her: China


And here’s the reverse side, bottom of the bag:


Happy Hips says they continue to use China for jerky because they care about the environment:

Why are the jerky treats made in China?
China is a country where dark meat is more popular due to its inherent fat and flavor. DOGSWELL believes it is less wasteful to obtain our white meat in China where it is abundant, rather than sourcing it domestically, where white meat is less available and held at a premium. Not only do we care about your pet’s health by sourcing only the healthiest meat available, we also practice sustainability by reducing as much waste as possible.

Yeah, I think I’ll pass.  I’m happy to take Happy Hips at its word, that it makes extra especially sure that it’s Chinese facilities are safe, but we’re talking about my dog’s life here.  And I don’t need to buy treats made in China.  My dog and I will survive quite happily by purchasing things that are clearly labeled as products made elsewhere.  I’ll just find other ways of helping the environment than worrying about killing my little dinosaur:

One of the many costumes Sasha tried on, and were rejected.

Sasha is in full preparation for Halloween.

Then I checked out an old package of Cesar’s Treats that I have – and there’s no indication at all on the packaging where the product was manufactured, and where its component parts originally come from – it’s getting thrown out too (I went to the product page on Cesar’s site, and can’t find any info on where the product is from, or manufactured):


Chinese chicken isn’t just for dogs, it’s coming for humans now too

China is now processing American chickens for reimportation back to the US, and again, no one is planning on telling you if your chicken has been processed in China.

And putting aside for a moment the fact that dogs and cats have been dying for years from Chinese products, you might wonder if China has had similar quality control problems with non-pet products?  Wonder no more.  From my earlier post:

Puppy via Shutterestock.

Puppy via Shutterestock.

Did you know that a few years back nearly 3 million Americans ate chickens that were fed poisonous Chinese pet food?

But the fun hardly stops there.  Consumers have been plagued with Chinese poisonous toothpaste, dangerous tires that leave out a special safety featuretainted baby milktainted porktoxic rice, kidney-damaging cookies, cake and candiesbird-flu infected chickendying pigs, and toxic fish.

So, now, when you eat something processed in China, you don’t need to simply worry about whether the product was made by Christian slave labor, you also have to worry about, you know, whether it’s going to kill you.

Actually, you won’t worry about it at all since the processed-in-China aspect of the chicken won’t have to be disclosed.  Because what could possibly go wrong?

And come on, who doesn’t love an exploding watermelon?

Maltese puppy via Shutterstock

Maltese puppy via Shutterstock

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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