Do you order dog treats online? Beware the risk of imported jerky treats
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Do you order dog treats online? Beware the risk of imported jerky treats

Dogs
Health & Safety

Owning a dog is an expensive undertaking, and one that many dog owners find a lot more costly than they originally budgeted for. Some of the costs of dog ownership are obvious, like food, beds, vaccinations and so on, but the little things that we don’t always think of when budgeting all add up too; like dog treats.

As is the case for most things your dog needs, buying dog treats in person from a pet shop or retailer or particularly your vet is invariably a lot more expensive than ordering them online, and many dog owners get most of their dog’s consumables over the internet as this is both more convenient and more cost effective.

This is particularly the case if you order in bulk, and also if you feed your dog a specific type of diet that can be costly, like the BARF or raw foods diet, or if you pick particularly protein-rich and so, higher-quality treats like dog jerky as opposed to giving them more generic biscuits and mass-produced alternatives.

However, some jerky that is sold online as a dog treat has been linked with a dangerous kidney problem in dogs, and this mainly relates to jerky dog treats imported from outside of the UK.

If you get jerky treats for your dog and you order it online or are considering doing so, read this article first to learn more about what type of jerky can be dangerous to dogs, and how and where to get dog jerky that is safe and properly regulated.

Why are some types of jerky treats dangerous to dogs?

Put simply, we don’t know for sure; jerky is simply a type of lean, trimmed meat that is dehydrated and potentially, treated with a little salt to give it a longer shelf life.

In its purest form, jerky is just meat and potentially a touch of salt, and it should not contain other ingredients, preservatives, or treatments. Jerky can be made from any meat or even vegetables for vegetable jerky, but beef, chicken and duck are common, particularly for dog treats.

Jerky made as described should not pose a threat to dog health, although salt isn’t good for dogs and a lot of salt can be toxic; but over the course of the last couple of years, there have been a small but concerning number of reports made by UK vets about dogs developing Fanconi syndrome, which is a potentially serious kidney condition, after being fed certain types of jerky.

Additionally, cases have been reported in much greater numbers in the USA, Australia and Canada in both dogs and cats over the last two years. Exactly what is present in the jerky involved in these cases or why it caused Fanconi syndrome in the affected pets is unknown, and this is currently under investigation by the VPIS or Veterinary Poisons Information Service.

What type of jerky treats have been linked to illness in dogs?

Again, there is no definitive answer to this; information is still being put together on which brands of jerky have been involved in diagnoses of Fanconi syndrome in dogs, and in turn, where, how, and by whom they were manufactured, so there is no list of specific types of jerky treats or brands of dog jerky that can be provided for dog owners to avoid.

Worldwide, quite a number of different brands of dog jerky have been involved in cases of Fanconi syndrome in dogs, and jerky made from chicken was by far the most common type. However, jerky made from duck and/or sweet potato, or involving chicken or duck-based jerky with other ingredients like dried fruit or veg have also been flagged.

What symptoms can alert you to a problem if your dog has had jerky?

If you’ve given your dog jerky treats and they display any of the following symptoms (which can indicate the onset of Fanconi syndrome) contact your vet immediately, and advise them of the problem and the type of treats your dog has eaten:

  • Sickness and vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Lethargy and loss of energy.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Increased need to urinate.

Retain the packaging of the jerky your dog ate for your vet to investigate further.

Is there a way to order dog jerky online safely?

As mentioned, there is no definitive list of brands or types of dog jerky to avoid, and so if you do wish to feed jerky treats to your dog, where you get it from and how you choose it from should be considered very carefully.

Most of the cases of Fanconi syndrome in dogs caused by jerky occurred when the jerky in question was manufactured in or imported from China, and so dog owners are strongly advised to only buy dog jerky and other treats from websites operating in and shipping from the UK, and that follow all of the relevant UK regulations on pet food manufacture and labelling.

Choosing jerky that is made in the UK from UK meats and other ingredients offers an additional layer of security, as ingredient listings on dog treat packages don’t indicate where each ingredient itself came from, and some may have originated abroad.

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