Is China killing your dog? Of course not…

Is China killing your dog? Of course not…

Prior to September 23rd I classified myself as pet tolerant. Meaning as long as I didn’t have to interact with your pet then I was tolerant. Not the most popular opinion for sure. It just wasn’t my thing. Then on that fateful day in September my boyfriend tricked me into getting an adorable puppy that we named Science. Since then I have thrown myself into the puppy world like any new mom would.

One of the things I have discovered is the massive amounts of pseudo science and fear mongering in the pet community. So as a new puppy mom, I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this. In fact, my fellow Skepchicks have held my hand every step along the way. Many of them are incredibly knowledgable about dogs and cats and exceedingly brilliant just as you would expect. They definitely helped me sift through bad advice I havd been given. However, recently I was pointed to an example of absurd fear mongering and overreaction about dog chicken jerky.

Many news outlets have run stories about lethal chicken jerky produced in China. This is by no means a new story, just new to me. It has been going on for several years, but has resurfaced yet again. Here is an example headline, but I have yet to find any concrete justification.

The treats that are specifically mentioned are Nestle Purina’s Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek chicken jerky treats, as well as Milo’s Kitchen treats made by Del Monte Corp. Waggin’ Train’s president came out with a statement that these treats are produced in China due to their abundance of white meat chicken due to the Chinese cultural preference for dark meat.

Upon complaints about these chicken jerky treats, the FDA has been investigating the toxicity of the products since 2008. Thus far, they have not detected any definite problems. I consider the FDA a reliable source, which has tested these treats in multiple laboratories on many substances including metals, Salmonella, antibiotics, pesticides, etc. In fact, the FDA has a detailed FAQ page specifically about pet jerky.  It is hypothesized that the problems could arise from a reaction between two ingredients, but the FDA has yet to find anything lethal or wonky despite headlines like the one above proclaiming that.

Each time a station runs one of these stories that locale seems to break out in an irrational state of panic instead of just doing their research or using common sense. Research and common sense are traits abundant in the skeptical community, however they are often limited else where.

Again I am by no means a pet expert, but if I notice Science vomiting or pooing all over the house then I realize something isn’t right. I would logically remove products from her diet to determine the culprit. Pet owners blame it on the treats. I am no vet, but it seems to me like there would be signs.

There are always exceptions,  but if I notice a new treat is giving my puppy bad gas then I toss it. To me this is a matter of observing then reacting. I would double check the FDA’s evaluation if I was particularly worried.

One more thing that really upset me about this story was the fear mongering and irrational nature of people reacting to China as a whole. On a Facebook post there were people being out right racist towards China and their products. Commenters were declaring that they would never buy items from China again, while combining it with other terrible unnecessary racial stereotypes. Does it seem likely that there is something faulty in these products? Yes. However, problems like this can arise from everywhere including the US. Quite frankly, the US would be lost without Chinese imports so this overreaction of people NEVER buying items from China again just seems silly.

After seeing some of the horrible tweets and posts related to the presidential election this week concerning race, I am not sure why I am continually surprised. This behavior needs to stop, but that is an uphill battle.

So let me be clear, I am not running out to the store to buy my dog chicken jerky. This article isn’t about me claiming that this chicken jerky is A-OK, but it is about treating anything (particularly pet related things) through a skeptical magnifying glass. Looking for signs before something gets to far. Using research, common sense, and critical thinking. Don’t blame the first scapegoat. These skeptical principles I use everyday and will continue to use them when evaluating anything in my life.

 

Avatar of Jacqueline
Jacqueline, a true Floridian, wandered up to the tundra of Athens, Georgia to receive her PhD in computational quantum chemistry. Returning to her roots, she is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in Tampa in the field of computational biochemistry investigating the wonders of penicillin-like drugs. When she is not slaving over the computer, her varied interests include international travel, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fancy food, (American) football, and Belgian quadrupels. She is also the founder of EligibleReceiver.com, a football blog with an exclusive female writing staff. Check out her sports ramblings there or follow her on Twitter @jhargis9.

31 Comments

  1. Avatar of SkepLit

    Bad thinking does definintely does not stop at the doggy door.
    I’m president of a local parrot fancier’s club and gave a talk on homeopathic care for parrots. Sure enough, one of my club members advised me to “keep an open mind” because she had been using homeopathy for her parrots and it certainly worked for her.
    After ascertaining that she did not replace regular medical care with homeopathy, but was using homeopathy as an adjunct, I told her that I stood by the conclusions described in the talk.
    Next up: parrot acupuncture.

    • Avatar of Jacqueline

      Oh my, I assume this expanded to different types of pet owners. Parrot homeopathy… I am sure that is just the beginning.

    • Avatar of quarksparrow

      I remember seeing an ad in a parrot mag once for avian chiropractic. Not entirely sure how you perform a chiropractic adjustment on an animal with a … fused backbone.

  2. Avatar of criticaldragon1177

    Jacqueline,

    Thanks for writing this. Its nice to know that dog owners fears were unfounded here.

    • Avatar of Jack99

      Not exactly unfounded. From the FDA FAQ in Jacqueline’s link “Currently, FDA continues to urge pet owners to use caution with regard to jerky pet treat products.”

  3. Avatar of Danarra

    So, a little while ago, my beloved Gypsy (puppy) got sick. Pooing large masses of blood, vomiting, no energy, etc. I took her straight to the vet in a panic. The vet asked me about her diet, etc. and zeroed in on the chicken treats I was giving her as the most likely cause. I came home all frantic to get the word out, because I know a lot of people with dogs, and posted right away – Chicken treats from China BAAAAAAAAAD. They told me my year old puppy had failing kidneys and I was ready to swim to China and throttle somebody.

    Today, happy little Gypsy is still around. No kidney failure. May or may not have been the chicken treats, since it seems it was not what the vet thought it was, we didn’t pursue it once she was back to being a bouncy little dog.

    Still a tad leery about giving her dried chicken (from anywhere), but aware that’s just me being emotional.

  4. Avatar of Luna

    This is a very interesting time for the pet food industry. The hotshots in particular are under the microscope these days.

    Pet food companies have to walk a fine line between affordable and healthy ingredients. They can’t afford to mass-produce food that lives up to human safety standards. Think about it, would you ever try your pet’s food? The ingredients are shockingly similar to what’s in human food. But of course you wouldn’t. Because intuitively, we realize we have no idea what the hell’s in there. On average, sure it’s probably safe. But we know very little compared to what we know about our food.

    Pet nutrition is barely a science. As a former vet tech I asked why we had zero nutrition classes. The only excuse I got was that even veterinarians only get one nutrition course; why should techs get more than zero?

    Now, in order to stay certified, we were required to take 12 credits a year. Nestle-Purina offered online nutrition classes for this. We had exams at the end. 1/3 of the questions were about “the best diet” for certain health conditions and pet stages of life. Can you guess what the answers were? Yep, each time, one of the multiple choices was a Purina product.

    After passing the exam, we were given backpacks, a mug and a wrist watch from Purina. This was to remain certified as a technician, mind you.

    My specialty (on my own time, studying the topic) is cat nurtition. And I can tell you, the Purina diet is shit. I won’t ramble on about it here but do check out a book called Your Cat by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins. Even if you’re a dog owner.

    Nestle is also a predator of water supplies and their products cause deforestation through their sourcing of palm oil. Nestle sued a town in Maine five times to get at their tap water to sell it bottled.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glKQlsTdrFk&feature=player_embedded

    You have to be very careful with raw food diets; we lightly cook our cat’s food. Ultimately, my opinion is that fresh food is better for pets because we have much more control over how it’s made and where it comes from. Also it doesn’t sit soaking in plastics all day.

    Commercial food is proably safe on average; the big news story is the dirty tricks the pet food industry uses to make profits while misleading consumers. Personally I’ve seen cat owners save a bundle on vet bills by switching to foods that aren’t implicated in diabetes, hyperthyroidism and dehydration.

    Again, check out that book. She tells all you need to know on the dirty secrets of the pet food industry.

    • Avatar of Otoki

      Actually, I’ve tasted every dog food flavor and brand I’ve put my dogs on. They’ve been very hard and surprisingly bland for the smell, but my dogs like them, I like the ingredients in them (I feed them Blue Buffalo), and I think it’s important for pet owners to actually read ingredients and decide what diet is best for their dog. For me, the decision was based off of research and the knowledge that cooking my dogs food is not affordable either in time or money for me.

      • Avatar of Luna

        It’s your choice what to feed your dog, OTOKI, but the ingredient label doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about your pet’s food. Maybe it says “lamb” as the first ingredient, but how has that been processed? What are those mysterious “grains” in the pet food? How long have the grains in the dry food been sitting around on a shelf? And how long has the wet food been soaking in that plastic lining?

        The rice, cranberry and other “natural ingredients” in pet food have way too high of a glycemic index for most cats and dogs. No person would eat corn every day for the rest of their lives, and neither should your pet.

        We feed our cats a smal amount of commercial food each week. Some brands like Wellness have relatively good standards. But think about how your doctor would react if you told her you plan to eat the same canned food every day from now on. Fresh ingredients are great for pets, and IF done correctly can save you a ton of money from vet bills later on.

  5. Avatar of Jack99

    First up : Jacqueline, that is a great picture of you and Science!

    Some of the symptoms described sound a bit like haemolytic uraemic syndrome.

    In 1995 there was a huge scandal in our city when a young girl died from eating E Coli contaminated salami. 23 others suffered more “minor” long term effects such as needing renal transplants or long term haemoldialysis.

    The fallout has only just been settled:
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ipad/garibaldi-victims-finally-paid/story-fn6bqpju-1226202722400

    I vividly remember this as only a couple of weeks before I had been given a HUGE salami, like 2 foot long and 4 inches thick, from the same company.

    The strain of bug responsible was found to contain shigatoxin. So I was lucky to dodge that particular bullet, but yeah, even with human food, in a first world country, you need to be cautious with fermented meats.

    I am an enthusiastic Sinophile, but we avoid pet snacks from China at the moment and will do so until they get their shit together wrt QC procedures.

  6. Avatar of Max Hannan

    @Luna

    As a vet student I can assure you that pet nutrition is a science and though I am only a semester into my first year I have already had more than one lecture on animal nutrition (ruminent nutrition – because yes, we have to know about ALL animals!) I assume that the bulk of my animal nutrition lessons will be done in my second year during the handily titled, “Small animal nutrition” lecture series next year (we have to learn the anatomy and physiology of the gut first, you see).

    By all means make your own animals diet. I’m sure some people are up to the challenge of balancing the right amount of protein, vits, minerals etc to ensure their pets’ health during each lifestage. But otherwise I would stick to a science diet (there are others besides those made my Purina!)

    • Avatar of Luna

      @Max Hannan unfortunately it’s a “science” that’s stuck in the 1980s. The claim that low protein diets (as opposed to low phosphate) is right for cats in kidney failure, that kibble removes tartar from your pet’s teeth, that grains and dry food are healthy for cats are all completely false and a product of pet food industry lies.

      If pet nutrition wants to be considered a science, all those claims listed above (plus many more) should have been debunked in your nutrition class. Unfortunately most tech programs I’ve seen have used Purina or Hills agenda to “teach” students and / or toe that line of nutrition in the classroom. lf your school does this, great. I’d love to know which school that is. But right now even Tufts promotes crap nutritional information.

      If that camp wants to be considered a science, it needs to update its information, especially for cats.

      • Avatar of jkc313

        Luna, Im a Vet with a special interest in feline nutrition. Not only are the Vet Schools promulgating nonsense, so are virtually every group having anything to do with Pet Nutrition.
        First, cats are obligate carnivores and natural hunters. It being unsafe to leave many cats out doors, we as a country, bring them inside, make them coach potatoes, and feed them like small dogs. Cats have virtually no carbohydrate requirement and an enzyme system that does not do well with plant proteins either. They do not need and cannot utilize those pictures of fresh carrots, broccoli, corn, and oats seen on food packages. Whomever decided protein was the enemy of cats with kidney disease, and not phosphorous has created an interesting phenomenon. Cats in renal failure are routinely put on DRY food with 26% protein. This is insane. No cat can live on 26% protein especially if 5% is soy. In order to get it’s needed protein the cat does the only thing it can, it eats it’s own muscles. These cats come in looking like Dimetredons with a sail on their backs. They are also all borderline dehydrated so all that dry food is doing so much good.

        The pet food industry makes it impossible to read the labels of any catfood and tell what percentages of anything is in there on a dry matter basis. Cats basically need what’s in a mouse. A mouse is 80% water. On a dry matter basis a mouse is 50% protein, 45-47% fat the rest carbs. Some pet food companies are discovering cats don’t need carbs but watch them; they put in 65% fat and cut down on animal protein, the most expensive ingredient.

        There’s a terrific website catinfo.org that has discussions and links to what your cat really needs

        • Avatar of Luna

          @JKC yes! Thank you. I wish more vets would speak up about this it’s so important to get cats into diets away from the pet food industry who are clearly only looking to save money.

  7. Avatar of Storm

    Jacqueline, this is the first time I’ve read your blog, but you strike me as someone who searches for the truth. And so I would like to correct a couple of misunderstandings.

    But first I want to say, I am SO happy you are not feeding your dog chicken jerky – no matter what you think of us, we aren’t fear-mongering, we are trying to save dog’s lives.

    Yes, I’ve seen some racist remarks too. I don’t agree with them. There is a huge group of people involved in the campaign to stop the sale of imported dog treats, and the majority of us are not racist. Please don’t judge us all by the actions of a few.

    Yes, I tell everyone not to feed their pets jerky treats imported from China. Not because I have something against China, I’m a live-and-let-live kind of person, but because the brands made in the USA and Canada have not been linked to liver disease, kidney disease and death in dogs, just the imported treats have been linked. Yes, LINKED – read the FDA’s latest warning if you don’t believe me:

    http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm319463.htm

    This warning also says the FDA is still investigating, still testing. The way Nestle-Purina / Waggin Train / Canyon Creek Ranch tells it, the investigation is over and nothing was found. It’s not over.

    Purina’s FAQ mentions the last FDA warning as being in March 2012. Actually, the FDA updated their warning twice in May, and then again in August (the warning you have posted above) and again in September (the link I have posted above).

    Here’s some other Pet-Company-sponsored myths:

    Nestle-Purina loves to tell everyone that the only dogs who’ve gotten sick or died are those that have been over-fed the treats. (from their faq: the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) previously has reported that any association between dog illnesses and chicken jerky may be the result of dogs (primarily small dogs) consuming treats in excess of normal or recommended levels. ) It’s not true. Most of us fed only a few. I fed my dogs a few treats over about 2 weeks. And anyway, your dog shouldn’t die if you feed too many treats, it should just get fat.

    Nestle-Purina insinuates that it’s because the treats are high in protein, that they are causing kidney problems. They are perpetuating an old wives’ tale that was disproved years ago.

    Nestle-Purina says that the FDA doesn’t mention Waggin Train in its warning statement – yes that’s true. But what they FAIL to mention is that if you download the report that the FDA has made available with SOME of the complaints, Waggin Train is one of the top offenders.

    http://google2.fda.gov/search?q=cache:99R8jmE9EokJ:www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofGlobalRegulatoryOperationsandPolicy/ORA/ORAElectronicReadingRoom/UCM314415.pdf+%22jerky+treats%22&proxystylesheet=FDAgov&output=xml_no_dtd&site=FDAgov-ORAER-CenterOffice&client=FDAgov&ie=UTF-8&access=p&oe=UTF-8

    Nestle-Purina loves to tell everyone that they use all white meat because dark meat is favoured in China, so there’s lots of white meat available. Now lets think about that for a moment, and use our common sense. Hmmm. China is a very poor country. Many of it’s citizens can’t afford meat at all, let alone the best meat on the chicken – the breast meat. So yes, I think if they get chicken meat, it’s probably the cheaper dark meat. But who CAN afford to buy all that expensive white meat? Why Americans and Canadians can, and guess what? They’ll buy it for their dog! I’ve no evidence of this, I’m just using common sense.

    You say that you would immediately eliminate from your dog’s diet any treat that made him sick. Me too. When my puppy started throwing up at 2 in the morning, and then continued to throw up every 20 to 30 minutes for the next 8 hours, all while having horrible diarrhea, you bet I stopped feeding her treats. Well, she wouldn’t even drink water at that point. She needed vet care to save her life. The vet said she ate something very toxic. I searched everywhere around my home for a toxin because, as you can well believe, I did not want her to go through that again. Even after I figured out it was the treats, I kept searching, hoping I was wrong. It’s a nightmare, you don’t know what the toxin is so there is no treatment plan, there is no knowing what to expect next.

    And as for symptoms; with kidney disease there will quite often be no symptoms until the kidney is 75% gone and your dog is dying at that point. You make him or her as comfortable as possible, for the rest of their shortened life. Another of my dogs has liver disease. She’s only 5 years old. I thought she recovered from the toxin. When her liver disease had progressed enough for her to show symptoms, they were very subtle. She was panting a lot. It was hot out, I thought she was too warm. She was very lethargic – well, it was hot out, who wants to play in the heat? When she fell a couple of times, and then I had to help her into the truck, I realized something was wrong. And that’s when we found out she has liver disease. I’m praying it’s not too late, because unlike the kidney, livers can regenerate.

    As to why I am so sure that it’s the chicken jerky treats – well, I sent my treats to CBC Marketplace and they sent them away to be tested. A lab in Germany found a compound in the treats; they don’t know what it is because it should not be there. The compound was not found in all the samples, not every bag is contaminated.

    http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/media/episodes/2012-2013/fightingforfido/pdfs/CFIA_Statement2.pdf

    I am praying too, that they find the toxin, but meanwhile I’m going to continue to warn people not to feed their pets imported treats, because Purina et al are not going to quit selling until we can Name That Toxin. Until then, they will continue to play spin doctor, and sell, sell, sell. Oh, but the safety of your pet is their #1 priority you know.

    • Avatar of Will

      I’m not going to agree or disagree with much of what you’ve said, but I do want to take issue with this paragraph:

      Nestle-Purina loves to tell everyone that they use all white meat because dark meat is favoured in China, so there’s lots of white meat available. Now lets think about that for a moment, and use our common sense. Hmmm. China is a very poor country. Many of it’s citizens can’t afford meat at all, let alone the best meat on the chicken – the breast meat. So yes, I think if they get chicken meat, it’s probably the cheaper dark meat. But who CAN afford to buy all that expensive white meat? Why Americans and Canadians can, and guess what? They’ll buy it for their dog! I’ve no evidence of this, I’m just using common sense.

      Let’s say there is a preference for dark meat in China (I don’t know if there is or not, but for the sake of argument let’s say there is). It is an ethnocentric statement to say that Chinese people cannot afford “the best meat” on the chicken–by definition, the best meat to Chinese people is the dark meat. So the premise upon which you’ve built your “common sense” argument is faulty because, in China, the dark meat would be more expensive because it’s more valued.

      This is the problem with “common sense.” It is laden with ethnocentric assumptions that are not founded in empirical evidence. If you have no evidence for this position, you should probably just keep it out of an otherwise-apparently evidence-based comment.

      • Avatar of Jack99

        Interesting. Just the other night I was watching one of my favorite series called “Singapore Flavours” where the hosts compare Singapore’s favorite recipes as done around the world. So one recipe, (e.g.. Curry Fish Head) five different places (London, Peking, Dubai, Tokyo, San Francisco, and my home town, Adelaide!).

        So typically Singaporean, just a bit obsessive and over the top but the dedication and enthusiasm are palpable. I so love those people!

        Anyway, yes, the topic that Westerners prefer chicken breast came up. The hosts and the chefs they interviewed all found it a bit dry and preferred drumstick. Also the cooking techniques demonstrated were designed to preserve moisture.

      • Avatar of Storm

        You are right Will, that comment belongs in a debate, and not in a statement of facts.

  8. Avatar of Storm

    Sorry, here’s the correct link to the CBC Marketplace show: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2012/09/fighting-for-fido.html

  9. Avatar of Danarra

    On more thing I wanted to respond to – “…if I notice Science vomiting or pooing all over the house then I realize something isn’t right. I would logically remove products from her diet to determine the culprit…”
    The only thing I want to point out is that you don’t always have the time to figure it out. One day your dog is fine, and then, with no warning or lead-up, she’s dying. I got lucky with Gypsy. Like I said, I really have no idea if it was the treats or not and I’m not willing to put my dollar down on it without further evidence – but I’m not taking the chance of not being as lucky next time.

  10. Avatar of Karen Friesecke

    Okay, so we all know that correlation does not imply causation. When you look at how many treats have been consumed vs. how many pets that have gotten sick, the numbers are pretty slim, but it’s a chance that I’m not willing to take. Are pet owners being irrational? I certainly wouldn’t want to consume any food product, no matter how slim the connection was to getting ill, and pet owners are no different.

    After that Melamine Dog Food Scandal of 2007 it’s been game over for feeding my dogs AND myself anything that comes from China. I make my own dog food and I only feed pet treats that are made in Canada or the USA.

  11. Avatar of jkc313

    It’s a bit more complicated. While these treats are implicated, nothing has been found in them as a potential causative agent. In 2009 in Australia, Veterinarians there noticed Fanconi Syndrome signs in their own dogs, none of whom had eaten any jerky treats. They had eaten dental treats, noticeably the popular Greenies. The statement that dogs show no symptoms until loss of 75% kidney function is incorrect. Tho poster may be thinking about cats who are able to concentrate their urine even in the face of loss of 75% of kidney function.

    Dogs will initially drink tons of water and have to pee frequently early on in any kidney disease, with the noted exception of anti-freeze toxicity. If your dog is all of a sudden drinking tons of water, get her to a Vet. If the Vet finds sugar in the urine but low sugar in a blood sample, likely Fanconi Syndrome is at play and supportive care including regulating blood pressure must be started

    • Avatar of Storm

      With all due respect jkc313, I believe you are talking about chronic kidney failure; the dogs poisoned by jerky treats are suffering acute kidney failure, as if poisoned by something toxic. It’s astounding how many vets have asked people if their dog got into antifreeze – my vet thought so when my puppy got sick. But there was no antifreeze that she, or my other dogs, could get into. The results of the jerky treat poisoning are not just limited to Fanconi-like symptoms – they include acute kidney failure, and liver disease.

      • Avatar of jkc313

        Hey Storm. I’m sorry, I wasn’t being clear. The statement that dogs show no signs until 75% of kidney function is gone is simply incorrect be it acute or chronic kidney failure. The reason we ask about antifreeze with any dog showing signs of acute kidney failure (increased thirst and urination while being symptoms of a plethora of disease syndromes but includes an acute insult to the kidneys) is there is a tiny window of opportunity to treat the antifreeze before the renal tubules are shredded and the kidney, as someone else pointed out, is not a forgiving organ like the liver and will not regenerate itself. Also, if we KNOW it’s antifreeze, we know how to treat it. If your Vet does NOT immediately ask about antifreeze at the first sign of kidney disease, he/she is not doing a very good job. Antifreeze had better be the number one rule out for acute kidney disease in dogs and although we think of it during times radiators are being flushed, dogs like the taste and a mean neighbor can poison your dog with antifreeze anytime.
        First with the nastiness of 2007(for months) and now with the jerky treats/greenies/whatever, no one has isolated what the hell is killing these dogs. All we can do is give supportive care. With Fanconi’s part of what’s going on is the renin angiotensin system is not working properly and we see sudden hypertension. If not brought under control quickly you end up with blown retinas at the least. Until we can do transplants, saying a dog is in acute renal failure without knowing the cause is not all that helpful. Right now all we can do is give fluids, diurese, monitor bp and other parameters and hope for the best. As a matter of fact, if I’m convinced a dog has had symptoms for 36 hours or less, I’m treating for antifreeze unless something else is obviously going on, which is why getting a UA and BW quickly is important. If glucose is in the urine but blood glucose is normal or low, it’s probably NOT ethylene glycol but if I have no idea what’s going on and it’s Spring or Fall in Georgia, I’m hooking that dog up to an IV drip of grain alcohol. If I’m wrong, the dog will either die or wake up with a hangover but the grain won’t kill her. If I’m right the dog will live.

        Cats on the other hand will continue to concentrate urine until 75-80% of functional kidney is gone making them very difficult for owners to notice anything wrong if it’s just kidney disease. Yes, you are correct, I was referring to chronic kidney disease, CKD, in cats and did not mean to confuse. Sorry bout that.

        To further complicate matters, numerous foods have been recalled due to aflatoxins. There seem to be more toxins no one saw coming every day. Who saw grapes/raisins ever being a problem? Xylitol is so good at killing oral bacteria and preventing tartar it’s in small amounts in most dog/cat water additives yet a few pieces of sugarless chewing gum containing xylitol can put certain dogs into hypoglycemic shock.
        It’s no fun trying to figure out what’s going on and when pet food manufacturers throw up their hands and say “until you prove it, we’re selling whatever we want”, when you KNOW it’s something in their product but can’t isolate it, it makes matters worse.
        Sorry for soapbox

        • Avatar of Luna

          I wish more progressive vets like you would step in on conversations like this, JKC otherwise it’s just a bunch of us amateurs flailing around trying to guess what’s wrong. Some people are well informed but it’s unlikely a non-vet is going to have the in depth expertise to answer these questions. I was a vet tech but like other techs I moved on to another career. Thanks for the very important info.

  12. Avatar of Edie Jarolim

    If you want to treat your dog irresponsibly, fine, but don’t go spreading your ill-informed opinion and endangering other people’s pets. The potential deadliness of Chinese jerky treats is not woo-woo, but science. I can post half a dozen articles proving that; here’s one that was posted by a reputable source today:

    http://www.dancingdogblog.com/2012/11/black-friday-for-pets-walmart-protests-and-chicken-jerky-treats/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DancingDogBlog+%28Dancing+Dog+Blog%29

  13. Avatar of Storm

    You don’t have to apologize about the soapbox to me! lol I tend to rant a little myself.
    Yes, it’s absolutely no fun trying to figure out what’s going on; it’s frustrating and it’s really, really scary. It’s almost-blind treatment and hoping for the best, and not knowing what to expect next. I thought all of my dogs had recovered. I should have had blood tests done on all of them.
    My puppy didn’t have symptoms of acute kidney disease, but my vet said she must have eaten something very toxic; when she was first admitted though, she presented like she had a blockage – but she didn’t. If she hadn’t recovered, then she was going to have exploratory surgery. Another of my dogs had normal blood tests during a checkup a month before I fed them the jerky, and a month afterwards, her liver enzymes had spiked well over normal and her kidney enzymes had increased a bunch too. They went back to normal after a couple of months. She was drinking and peeing excessively. None of them had any energy for weeks.
    If there is any other treatment protocols for a suspected poisoning from an unknown toxin, I would be very interested in learning all that I can. And I am sure others would be too.
    Our group is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Animal-Parents-Against-Pet-Treats-and-Food-Made-in-China/235390426550583

  14. Avatar of washu

    Jacqueline,
    I enjoyed your post. I would enjoy reading a series of posts about pet related “woo!” Or perhaps pet related skeptism?
    I’m a dog trainer. I teach a puppy class. I compete with one of my dogs in agility and competition obedience. I know A LOT of “dog people” – trainers, breeders, handlers, vets, vet techs, owners dog show judges pet product vendors; and I can tell you there is A LOT of woo out there! General discussions of pet health care among “dog people” can be very unskeptical. When a dog is injured or ill, many people are more likely to look for advice “on-line” or ask a friend than they are to call their vet. Another trainer once suggested I try “T-Touch” in order to help a dog overcome a gun-shy problem. Chiropractors and acupuncture for pets seem to be getting more and more popular every day. The anti-vac movement is gaining more momentum due to some vets and pharma. companies disagreeing on protocols and length of immunity as well as the human anti-vac movement spilling over into the pet world. The list goes on and on.

  15. Avatar of artdyke

    I don’t think an avoidance of Chinese food products has to have anything to do with racism; there is quite a history of tainted Chinese food making people and pets sick. The country has a well-documented history or rather poor food safety standards. This is why there has been a much greater call from food safety advocated to massively increase testing of imports; as it stands now, there is little to no testing done by the FDA. Once they actually get around to testing things, you’re right, I trust the results, but the organization has been systematically crippled and underfunded by politicians in bed with big food corporations and meat processing companies, etc. Only the tiniest, tiniest percentage of any of our food ever gets tested before going to market, and even that is in question now that companies like the big poultry processors are pushing to do their own self-testing (something I pray never comes to pass). The FDA has so little strength that even if they found conclusive evidence of pathogens in chicken jerky treats, they would have absolutely no power to do anything about it. So the caution and skepticism is really not all fear-mongering (although I agree it’s entirely possible and even likely that many of these people are simply misattributing their pet’s illnesses without any real evidence in this case).

    • Avatar of artdyke

      I should add that Marion Nestle is great person to read if you’re interested in some good, evidence-based, no-bullshit writing on nutrition and food politics. She even has a couple of books all about pet food. Her blog is foodpolitics.com.

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