Chicken Jerky Problems – The latest news.

veterinary news

A year ago, I first wrote about a concern that some veterinarians had about chicken jerky treats causing problems for dogs.  Since then, that article has received over 600 comments from people whose dogs have been made sick (or have even died) as a result of eating chicken jerky treats.  And, to date, the FDA has not been able to find out what the problem is!  Today, the FDA put out a news bulletin to tell the public what they are doing to try to solve the mystery.

Dog gets chicken jerky treatWhat is the problem with chicken jerky?

Initially, vets had concerns that chicken jerky treats were causing some dogs to have similar symptoms to something called “Fanconi Syndrome”.  Vets were seeing dogs who had an increase in thirst and urination and in many cases had glucose in their urine (but no elevated blood glucose level).  In most cases, the symptoms went away within a week or two of removing chicken jerky treats from their diet.

Then, word of other cases began to trickle in.  These dogs did not have any glucose in their urine, but had severe symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea and in many cases dogs required extensive in-hospital treatment.  Some had significant kidney problems including renal failure. The comments on the first article about chicken jerky I wrote have many people claiming that their dogs have even died as a result of eating tainted chicken jerky treats.  Some also blamed duck jerky treats as well.

What brands are affected?

For legal reasons, I can’t make any guesses about what brands of chicken jerky are causing dogs to get sick.  However, searching through the 600+ comments on the previous post (again, see here), you will easily be able to find that there are certain brands that are mentioned more often.  The FDA is testing a great number of brands for potential problems.  I have mentioned some of these below.

Did the FDA recall any treats?

To this date, no, there has not been a recall.  The problem is that they cannot find a culprit.  Below, I will describe what testing the FDA is doing to try to find out exactly what the problem is.  The FDA has put out warnings about chicken jerky treats in September of 2007, December of 2008, and November of 2011.  These warnings are usually brought about because of an increase of complaints to the FDA.  This is why it is very important that you report a complaint to the FDA if you feel that your dog has become sick from eating tainted chicken jerky.

What tests have the FDA run?

The FDA is doing a LOT of testing to try and find out why dogs are getting sick from eating chicken jerky products.  This spreadsheet on FDA testing of chicken jerky is fascinating to read.  In it, the FDA describes what tests they have done on particular jerky products from 2007 to 2012.  Here are some interesting parts:

  • In 2007, some bags of Waggin Train were tested and found not to contain Melamine.  (Melamine was the culprit in a huge pet food recall in 2007.)  However, one bag of Waggin train was found to have very minute amounts of melamine (in amounts that the FDA still considered acceptable).  Another bag was found to have Diethylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol in very small amounts.
  • In 2007, a sample of Dingo Chick’n Jerky treats was found to contain Salmonella.
  • In 2007, Diethylene Glycol was found in samples from Carolina Prime Pet Chicken Breast tenders and Chicken Jerky as well as Bestro’s jerky treats and Dogswell Vitality Chicken Breast Jerky Strips.
  • In 2007, a bag of Waggin Train treats was found to contain mold.

  • In 2009, Salmonella was found in Kingdom Pets Duck Jerky Strips.


  • In 2012, minute amounts of undeclared Propylene Glycol were found in bags of Kingdom PetsPet’N’Shape, Dog Chew, and Smokehouse treats.  However, the levels were minute and were not considered to be dangerous to dogs.
  • The majority of tests run in 2012 have been inconclusive.

Here are some of the other things that the FDA has tested potentially contaminated chicken jerky treats for. But, despite all of this testing, they still don’t know what the problem is:

  • Salmonella
  • Metals
  • Furans
  • Pesticides
  • Antibiotics
  • Mycotoxins (molds)
  • Rodenticides (rat and mouse poisons)
  • Kidney toxins such aristolochic acid, maleic acid, paraquat, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, toxic hydrocarbons, melamine and related triazines.
Dog gets jerky treat.The FDA also did DNA testing of samples to verify that the treats were actually containing poultry.  They have also looked for Vitamin D excess and the presence of enterotoxins.  Some of the 2012 test results are still pending, so it is still possible that an answer surfaces soon.
The tests were run at a number of private labs as well as the FDA’s own laboratories.


At this point we still don’t know why dogs have become sick after eating chicken jerky treats.  If you feed these type of treats to your pet I would highly advise that you stop!  Some people have suggested that the dogs that are getting sick have eaten large amounts of treats but there are many comments on my previous post from people who said their dogs got sick from eating just the occasional treat or in small amounts.

If you feel that your dog has become sick from eating chicken jerky it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you report this to the FDA.  Save the packaging and any contents that you have as the FDA may want to run tests on the samples.  Once again, here is how you can report a problem to the FDA.


Have you been affected?

If your dog has become sick from eating chicken jerky, please do leave a comment.  Your experiences will hopefully help other dogs from becoming sick.

Also, I would greatly appreciate if you share this post on Facebook or via email with anyone you know who may be feeding jerky treats.  Many people still are not aware of the potential dangers!

Photo credits: Jack Russel gets a treat ©iStockPhoto, Dog gets a jerky treat by punctuated, flickr.

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Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie is a veterinarian treating dogs, cats, and pocket pets. Click here to ask Dr. Marie a question.

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8 Responses to "Chicken Jerky Problems – The latest news."

  1. Gene Mitchell says:

    my dog, a 60 lb. Shepherd mix is almost 7 . This is the first Florida summer where she is panting excessively along with other new behaviors that seem odd. So one of the possibilities I’m considering is the cumulative effects of Beefeater’s chicken jerky which has been her favorite treat for the past 5 years. I give her about 20 strips a month.

    I’m leaning against this explanation as it seems that those with problems tend to have kidney problems and that doesn’t seem apparent with her. Her urination seems normal and per her habit, she drinks about 3 small bowlfuls of water (strangely almost none during the daytime).

    So now I’m trying to figure out if this is just normal reaction to heat as she ages or if it could be related to her discoid lupus. I’ve read it can also be due to congestive heart failure but she seems pretty healthy and can be very playful and active. I can’t rule out it being mostly behavioral as at times she’ll start panting when inside a cool home, and it seems to me that this usually occurs at times when I have the feeling she’s showing frustration.

    I’m thinking it’s mostly heat related. Another new thing is she’s been digging recently despite being well trained not to, and I believe it’s to keep her paws in cool mud. She’s also now begun something that seems strange – like coming in from a walk in 90 degree weather only to go out thru the doggie door where she sits in the shade a strangely disobeys me when I demand she come in where it’s cool. I don’t know if she’s laboring with the heat and her instinct is to find shade (she also does the exact same shade-sitting behavior, each time I leave the house to ride a bike or jog???)

    I guess I’m going to the vet, though I hate the process of searching for a mystery.

    In any case, after going through at least a dozen 3 lb bags of jerky in her lifetime, I don’t plan on buying anymore.

    1. P. Diamante says:

      I am an M.D. not a vet. My dog has been eating these treats for a coupke months and he has similar behaviors to the ones you describe: panting, and decreased activity. He had diarrhea previously, which has now subsided.
      I know that in humans often renal problems are not evident until the patient is severly ill or close to complete failure.
      I plan to take my dog to have a urine analysis and blood test for a basic metabolic profile and see how his kidney function is. If he is having any problems I can change his diet so that his kidneys are not so “taxed”. That seems like a better plan than waiting until he is in kidney failure. at that point there is very little that can really be done.
      I wish that this subject was more openly in the news! People should be made aware!



  3. C. Thomas says:

    I don’t know the current status of this lawsuit that was reported by the news media to have been filed in April 2012 by Veterinarian Adkins whose dog died and chicken jerky was suspected to be the cause.

    IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Class Action lawsuit filed regarding chicken jerky treats. Chicago Attorney Daniel A. Edelman of Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin 312-739-4200. Adkins vs. Nestle Purina Petcare. U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois No. 12-02871,0,5415678.story

  4. C. Thomas says:

    CORRECTION: Dennis Adkins is not a Veterinarian.

  5. Colleen W. says:

    Thank you for your article. Unfortunately for us, it’s too late. We lost our beagle Pebbles, last year in July,who was only 9 years old, last year -2011. She started having symptoms a year prior- symptoms of frequent thirst, and frequent large volumes of urination and also excessive shedding. I brought her to the veterinarian, who did bloodwork and did not find anything wrong… Her levels were all normal- vet also checked if diabetes and her blood glucose was normal. Her favorite treat is the Waggin Train chicken jerky (we purchased from BJ’s). She would only get this as a treat and was on higher end pet food. After that visit, other symptoms started which included vomiting more often, diarhea and she looked bloated, like she gained weight. By winter of 2010, her symptoms improved a bit but we did stop giving her the treats as they caused her to throw up almost immediately after consumption. We switched the trestle to Natural Balance biscuits. From winter of 2010 to July of 2011, her symptoms changed from the frequent urination to occasional vomiting and diarhea. By the time July 2011 came, she got really sick really quickly. It happened so fast and it was too late. We brought her to a different vet and they did not know what was the direct cause of her death. We never really made the correlation that perhaps, the jerky treats we fed to our dear Pebbles, over the years, may very well be the cause of her health problems. I just want other pet owners to know, to not dismiss the symptoms you see. I hope that something will be done to stop these treats from being sold and feed to dogs, which may be causing them to get sick.

  6. Dawn Withrow says:

    I am sending this out to Pet Stores… I am mad as hell.
    This is a letter to CORPORATE:

    Our Australian Terrier dog died August 3, 2012. She ate one Canyon Creek Ranch, YAM GOOD duck filet wrapped yam, suffered horribly for 2 weeks and was finally euthanized when it was discovered her kidney had shut down completely. She was an active, delightful family member, living for 5 years with one kidney BECAUSE in 2007 she fell victim to the Chinese melamine poisoning of dog food and lost her kidney. She lived 5 years healthy and active until August when she ate this one duck jerky treat. What are the odds of one dog being affected twice in her little life by tainted poisonous Chinese chemicals? Apparently the odds are good. After her death I began to look online to see why this happened and of course I found that not only are your companies aware of this, but the FDA is involved, and distributors and local pet stores have been notified – this is a documented problem. So why are the products still on the shelves? Well I ask this of every manager I encounter and to a person the response is, “it’s a corporate decision”. So “corporate”, I am now asking you, why are these products still on the shelf?

    When my dog died I filed an official complaint with the FDA. Today a representative from the FDA came to my home to take an affidavit regarding her death. Last week a local TV station, WSVN Channel 7, in Miami did an on camera interview with me and my husband regarding these “treats” killing dogs. People are really starting to pay attention and listen. Thousands of dogs have died. This is the time to do something.

    Well here is my plea to “corporate”. We know these products are sickening and killing dogs but according to the FDA they are having trouble identifying the exact toxin or toxins despite 5 years of testing. So doesn’t it make sense to remove the products until the toxin is identified? If it were a child and not a dog would you just continue letting the kids get sick and die horrible deaths while you continued to test? I don’t think so.

    My proposal is this: BE THE ONE, be the one to stand up and announce publicly that you choose to no longer wait and see what happens, you choose to take the moral high ground and take these products off your shelves, voluntarily! Imagine the tremendous great press you will receive. There are thousands of us pet owners out here just waiting to help you advertise what you are doing. We use social media and reach tens of thousands of people. Be the good guy. Be the first. Set the bar high and dare others to match your actions.

  7. Jill H. says:

    My 4 yr 11 month old german shepard/great pyranese male dog RJ died 3/11/12 from Waggin Train Chicken Jerky Treats. We never gave our dogs (RJ and litter mate Hammy) any treats other then cookies and accasional pigs ears. In early February we received a free sample of these treats in our Purina Beneful dog food bag. When I took the sample package (4 pieces) out the dogs went nuts over the smell of them, so i went ahead and gave them each 1 piece that morning and another one that evening (again only 4 pieces in the bag) Per the bag for dogs over 100 lbs they can have up to 4 pieces a day. Both dogs are over 100 lbs. Rj was very lethargic within days, drinking excessively, frequent urination, lack of appetite and became increasingly non-responsive. We rushed him to the emergency vet and he was put on steroids and iv fluids and we were told his kidneys were not functioning and he was showing signs of fanconi syndrome. Over 3 weeks of treatment he was much better and again we received another sample package of the treats in another bag of beneful dog food. We never thought the treat is what made RJ sick so since he was feeling better and he loved these treats we gave both dogs again one treat in the morning and one in the evening. RJ the next morning 3/11/12 got up as normal and then around noon that fateful Sunday i was in the room with both dogs giving Hammy (RJ’s sister) her medicine (she has a thyroid problem) and RJ looked at me, gave me a absent look, turned walked into the room where my roommate was collapsed, had a seizure and died before we could do anything. We for weeks didn’t know what had happened and could not afford a necropsy due to just spending $1200 on getting him treatment so we were beside ourselves. Upon going thru everything we came to the conclusion that the only difference in any activity, diet, environment was these Waggin Train Treats. I found the group Parents Against Pet Treats Made In China and saw many similar stories so I am 100% sure these treats are what caused my precious RJ to die. We also believe Hammy did not get sick due to the thyroid problems she has and the meds that may have helped her expell the bad toxins. Over 360 dogs and 1 cat has died from these treats and over 2,200 more are ill. These treats need to be removed from the shelves so more dogs will not die. I have joined the class action lawsuit filed in connecticut and that suit plus others are pending merging with the orginal suit filed in Illinois. Please help us to fight to get these treats off the shelves, the main 3 treats being suspected are Waggin Train, Canyon Creek and Milos. All say made in USA but on the back in very fine print states products of china. For more information that we have gathered please join our discussion in the facebook group “Parents Against Pet Foods Made in China” RIP my sweet RJ sadly missed by MOM, DAD, Hammy, Mapu and Murphee.

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