- The Washington Times - Friday, October 25, 2013

An estimated 580 pets have died and another 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have fallen ill since 2007 due to a mysterious ailment related to jerky-based treats, Food and Drug Administration agents said this week.

The treats in question are described as jerky tenders or strips, made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes or dried fruit, according to an FDA statement. Most were made in China, where manufactures have few health and production restrictions.

The FDA isn’t sure what it is about the jerky that’s causing the ailments, and they’re asking pet owners to help.

“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” Dr. Bernadette Dunham, who directs the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in the statement.

Symptoms are decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and increased urination — all within hours of eating the treats.

Pet owners who notice these symptoms are being asked to contact the FDA consumer complaint coordinator for their state. Owners have been asked to refrain from feeding any jerky treats to their pets.