New Information about Jerky Treats for Pets

Since 2007, we’ve known that chicken jerky treats manufactured in China can cause gastrointestinal and/or kidney issues in some dogs. Until recently, virtually all commercially sold jerky treats in the United States were manufactured in China. Despite extensive investigations by numerous experts, the actual cause(s) of jerky-induced illnesses has not been identified.

When jerky-associated problems were first documented, savvy proprietors of many independently owned pet stores quit stocking Chinese-manufactured jerky treats. More recently, many of the big box stores have followed suit. These pet store changes have seemingly produced positive results. According to a February 2015 Seattle Times article, “For the first time in seven years, complaints that jerky pet treats made in China are sickening and killing America’s animals, mostly dogs, have fallen sharply.” Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman, Siobhan DeLancey reasoned, “We’re not sure if this is because the products are off the market, because people are more aware of the problem, or because some of the products have been reformulated.”

New jerky-related problems

Ms. DeLancey was recently back in the news responding to reports of illnesses caused by jerky treats manufactured within the United States. In response to these new claims filed by veterinarians Ms. DeLancey stated, “We have found some of these products may contain ingredients from outside of the U.S. The FDA continues its investigation into these, as well as other, jerky treats potentially linked to illnesses.” The implication is that jerky treats manufactured within the United States don’t necessarily contain domestic ingredients. Whether or not the source of ingredients explains recently reported illnesses remains anyone’s guess.

Some dogs who responded adversely to jerky treats manufactured within the United States experienced vomiting and diarrhea. More seriously affected dogs developed kidney failure, and some developed Fanconi Syndrome, a rare form of kidney disease seen primarily as an inherited disorder in the Basenji breed. Dr. Urs Giger, a veterinary geneticist, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and leading expert on Fanconi Syndrome, reported that his laboratory began seeing many more non-Basenji cases of Fanconi Syndrome in or around 2007, all seemingly related to jerky consumption. Four hundred Fanconi cases were identified between 2009 and 2012, and Giger reports that he continues to see new cases weekly. The most recent cases are seemingly associated with consumption of jerky treats manufactured within the United States.

Jerky treats and your pet

What does this information mean in terms of your dog’s health? Jerky-induced illnesses remain a reality, and a “Manufactured within the United States” product label is not a guarantee of safety. Until the actual cause(s) of jerky-related illness is identified, I strongly encourage you to avoid feeding jerky products to your dogs, regardless of where they are manufactured. If your dog really loves jerky (can’t live without it!), consider making your own. Until further notice, please stay away from the store bought stuff.

Based on this information, will you be altering your dog’s jerky habit?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at,, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.


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11 Comments on “New Information about Jerky Treats for Pets

  1. Long time ago, when Jasmine was little she liked the “Beggin Strips”. So we used to get those for her. Then they must have changed the formulation because when we bought it the next time, it smelled like vinegar and chemicals. That was the first time even I decided to look at the ingredients of what I was buying. I wasn’t impressed with the way it smelled nor the ingredients. It was then when we started making our own treats. Still doing that today.

  2. I am a veterinarian, and I have seen two patients ill from home made jerky treats too, so I have some suspicion that something in the process of drying the meat that creates the problem. Smaller dogs more likely to be affected, so it seems to be a dose related issue as well, and not all the time.

    It is so similar to the raisin toxicity , to me, where raisins are more toxic than grapes, and not every raisin is toxic, and some dogs never get sick and have eaten lots of raisins, that I just feel that something is being concentrated in the product when it dries

  3. Several years ago, I bought Jerky treats that ended up being recalled. Even though my dogs’ health was not affected, I decided never to buy store-bought treats again! I either use string cheese or I dehydrate my own hotdogs for their use!

  4. Good question Anneke. The information I have pertains specifically to some jerky treats.

  5. Does that include bully sticks from south America or the USA?

  6. Last Christmas my sister gave me some jerky treats for my dogs. I reminded her of the jerky that had sickened many dogs . Her resonate was: these are made in the USA . I still was skeptical . I called the company asking if the ingredients were from the US. There was a big pause on the phone . They admitted to me that the source of ingredients was not USA.
    Lesson learned : made in USA doesn’t mean the source is USA .
    This is a sneaky way to trick us into believing its a safe product.
    Lesson: make your own.

  7. I also make my own chicken jerky on the dehydrator. They also like sweet potato chips too. Much safer than buying the crap in the stores. My 4 dogs and cat love them!

  8. “Made in America” is NOT safe: “… all other ingredients “were sourced from U.S. companies”… This is a common trick used by pet food/pet treat manufacturers. ‘Ingredients sourced from U.S. companies’ could have a country of origin in China or anywhere in the world. This treat company only disclosed that they purchased the ingredients from a U.S. supplier. They did not disclose the country of origin the supplier purchased from. When you inquire about country of origin of ingredients – don’t accept this response. You want/need country of origin of all ingredients (not supplier origin).”

    Four years ago, pet food consumers filed a Citizen Petition with FDA basically asking the agency to enforce the law (law the agency is already supposed to enforce). Four years later we receive their response. They said “No”.

    FDA has been investigating pet deaths and illnesses linked to Chinese jerky treats for
    When will FDA make this clock stop? STILL NO RECALL.

    Independent testing by consumers of 8 brands of pet food (including Wellness, which I used to buy, thinking it was good), all contained dangerous levels of mycotoxins and bacteria harmful to humans.

    If you read only one article about the dangers of commercial pet food, let it be this one:

    The FDA refuses to enforce its own laws. We are paying $2 per pound +/- for pretty bags of garbage; accepted ingredients in pet “food” are diseased animals, euthanized animals, adulterated with rodent, roach, or bird excreta, Pesticide contamination in excess of the permitted tolerance or action level, Pesticide contamination where the pesticide involved is unapproved for use on a food or feed commodity, Contamination by industrial chemicals, Contamination by natural toxicants, Contamination by filth, Microbiological contamination, Over tolerance or unpermitted drug residues. Also, meat sent to pet “food” manufacturers is not required to be refrigerated!!!
    I object to paying large sums of money for filthy trash, aka “cancer in a bag” when I can buy meat at the market for $2 per pound!
    After extensive research, I no longer buy “pet food” My dogs get only HUMAN GRADE food, which is the only safe thing.
    The difference in my dogs is remarkable! People are always telling me how great they look.

  9. We make our own venison jerky treats for the dogs, along with other dehydrated treats like sweet potato chips or green beans. A dehydrator is inexpensive, the process is simple and the pups love them. I read the “making your own” article, above, and have one comment. I wouldn’t recommend using the cooking spray because in my experience, any oil or fat increases drying time and decreases storability .

  10. Hi Dr Nancy,
    Thanks for this great info. If people didn’t know before they should know by now, that we can’t necessarily trust what is on our pet food labels.
    I have been dehydrating my dog and cat treats for years as well as making their food. Yes it takes a little longer and maybe costs a bit more but I have less vet bills so it is cost effective and besides that…they’re worth it!!