Pay Attention to What You Feed Your Dog

Pay Attention to What You Feed Your Dog

When Boodle, the Labrador retriever in Carl Hiaasen's novel Sick Puppy, swallows a few glass eyeballs from wall-mounted animal heads, the poor pup gets, well, as sick as a dog. But a canine will chow down just about anything! That’s why you need to pay attention to what man's best friend eats.

Consider the recent news about potentially toxic jerky treats marketed for pets in North America. Since 2007, the FDA has gotten reports from 50 U.S. states and six Canadian provinces about 3,600 dogs (and 10 cats) getting sick from eating these treats; about 600 died.

In 2011 the FDA finally jerked to attention and had some product testing done. They identified one Chinese manufacturer in particular associated with the highest numbers of jerky-related pet illnesses. The manufacturer blamed it on their suppliers, but the Chinese reportedly suspended those exports anyway. More recently though, a New York State lab found evidence of up to six drugs, including antibiotics, in certain jerky pet treats imported from, guess where? China. The drug levels weren't considered toxic by themselves, but they can trigger allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock.

Now, the FDA has decided to establish new rules for selling pet food that will increase sanitation and require labeling that includes the country of origin of each ingredient.
In the meantime, apply the same standards to your pet’s diet that you know should apply to yours. Avoid processed foods and don’t snack on treats loaded with sugar syrups and sodium (like jerky).

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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