By Lisa Martone
MENANDS, N.Y. – The Food and Drug Administration has been looking into pet deaths and illnesses associated to dog treats made in China since 2007, and now they are asking for help from veterinarians.
Nearly 600 dogs have died and almost 4,000 more have gotten sick from eating jerky treats manufactured in China, but the exact cause of the problem remains a mystery.
Veterinarian Patricia Schuster makes it a priority to keep up with the FDA's search for the mystery ingredient.
"Pets are suffering from increased water consumption, increased urination; those are the first symptoms of kidney failure," she said. "Also vomiting, lethargy; that type of thing, so I think it is important to get to the bottom of what is going on."
The FDA has been searching for the answer for six years, and in a recent letter sent to veterinarians, the administration is asking them to report all suspected cases as well as collect diet details of sick pets in hopes of finding what is really causing these illnesses.
"If enough people are on board, we certainly should be able to find an answer," veterinarian Lexi Becker said. "The difficult thing is they just don't know where the real issue is. If it is with the processing or the storage. They have absolutely no idea."
A variety of brand names and treats have been linked with these illnesses, so veterinarians recommend reading labels and avoiding any treats made in China or stick with a vet-approved diet of fruits and vegetables.