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FDA seeks pet owner help on dangerous jerky treats

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is trying to solve a stubborn mystery surrounding the deaths of almost 600 dogs that ate jerky treats, and officials are hoping pet owners and veterinarians can help them figure out what exactly may be causing the illnesses.

The problem appears to be tied to treats made in China, the FDA said, though investigators haven’t yet found a certain cause. The FDA says it has received reports of illnesses in 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the United States since 2007, and 580 dogs died.

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The pet treats were sold under a wide variety of brand names.

The complaints were sent in by pet owners. But many others were sent in by veterinarians who have seen repeated cases of kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder, the FDA said.

FDA veterinarian Martine Hartogensis said the agency is now appealing to pet owners and veterinarians to send them more information. Pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, and diarrhea among other symptoms within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes, or dried fruit.

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