(SIOUX CITY, IA, NATIONAL) Pet owners listen up. The treats you're feeding your dog or cat could kill them.
The Food and Drug Administration says more than 3,600 dogs and around 10 cats have become sick after eating jerky treats since 2007. Nearly 600 have died.
The agency hasn't been able to pinpoint a specific brand or cause. But it's believed the contaminated treats are made in China.
While there's no official recall issued by the FDA, two name brand companies have voluntarily recalled treats after the FDA identified a possible link between the illness. The treats contain trace amounts of an antibiotic residue not approved in the United States.
Those brand names are Del Monte Corporation and Nestle Purina.
Even still, Nestle Purina insists the antibiotic residue is not harmful to the health of animals and the FDA doesn't know for sure if that's even the cause of the outbreak.
Now a days people treat their animals like part of the family and it's only natural to want the very best for your pet.
Which is one reason why the FDA announced Tuesday its investigation into Jerky pet treats manufactured in China.
"The FDA center for Veterinary medicine has conducted more than 1,200 tests so far which have included site visits to jerky pet treat manufacturers in China, as well as various state labs and foreign governments," said Travis Page, President of WhiskerDocs, a 24/7 Ask-a-Vet Helpline.
The tests haven't identified a cause however, the FDA says the treats include various types of Jerky.
Most cases are linked to treats with chicken, duck, sweet potato and dried fruit and Page says it can be hard to figure out which treats are from China and which ones aren't.
"The scary part is if you're a manufacturer of these treats you don't have to site where you sourced your ingredients so even if you don't see anything about China on those treats, you might be still getting treats from that area," he said.
Two major brands have voluntarily recalled some of the treats. Nestle Purina pulled Waggin Train Treats and Canyon Creek Ranch treats. Del Monte Corporation pulled Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers Home-Style Dog Treats.
One symptom you should look out for is lack of appetite. If your cat or dog isn't eating, it's probably time to call the vet.
"Any vomiting or diarrhea, especially if you see any blood or mucus in there. Any change in how much water they're drinking and if they start acting lethargic or low less energy. And some of those symptoms can come up even between hours and days after they've eaten some of those treats," said Dr. Michelle Bader, with Family Pet Hospital in Sioux City.
Dr. Bader says while she hasn't seen any dogs or cats directly affected all 50 states have seen at least one case if not more.
The FDA is asking vets all over the country to send in samples if they suspect the animal has the illness.
Bader suggests getting treats that clearly say Made in America on the package and avoid the treats that have been recalled for a while.
Page adds he is also worried the contamination could spread to other types of pet food. He suggests getting food from trusted brands.
We decided to include a link to recipes for homemade dog treats that way you can skip the middle man all together, and make these from scratch.
Check these sites out: http://animal.discovery.com/pets/5-homemade-small-dog-treats.htm