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Lifestyle Pets Unleashed

Pet treat reports cause concern

You've probably seen the list floating around Facebook and email chains. It claims that dozens of brands of popular pet treats are linked to the deaths of dogs and cats, and that you should throw them all away. Is it true? Depends who you believe.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about chicken jerky products from China in November 2011, which it started investigating in 2007. Last year, the agency added duck and sweet potato jerky to its investigation.

To date, the FDA has received more than 3,000 complaints of pets sickened and reports of 500 dog and nine cat deaths after the animals ate treats made in China. No recall has been mandated, but several companies have voluntarily pulled their products off store shelves -- you can see a full list on the Humane Society's website. Earlier this month, Nestle Purina recalled Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats, and Del Monte pulled Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers out of stores. Many pet-focused sites are encouraging dog and cat owners to avoid any food or treats made in China, as no cause for the deaths and illnesses has been determined at this time.

The FDA says symptoms to watch for include decreased appetite or activity, vomiting or diarrhea with or without blood, increased water consumption, and increased urination. They advise pet owners to get their animals to a vet immediately if they suspect a treat has made them ill.

If you suspect your dog or cat was harmed by food or treats, visit the FDA's online Safety Reporting Portal to report it. Just like your own food, it's probably not a bad idea to read the labels of your pet's food and treats and decide whether you feel it's safe for them to eat.

For now, I'm avoiding anything that says China for my dog. Tell me: How do you feel about this? Are you doing anything differently? Comment below and let's talk about it.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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