PetSmart and Petco, two major pet food retailers, said they will stop selling dog and cat jerky treats made in China because of continuing fears of their safety, but it could take almost a year until the items are completely gone.
A spokeswoman at PetSmart says it plans to have the treats off all its store shelves by March 2015. Petco announced on Tuesday that it would remove all its China-made treats at its 1,300 stores by the end of this year.
Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration haven't been able to prove that jerky treats made in China are making pets sick. But since 2007, it has received more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses and more than 1,000 reports of dog deaths after eating Chinese-made chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats, according to The Associated Press.
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Gastrointestinal problems and liver disease are the No. 1 symptoms exhibited by dogs sickened by the pet jerky products
, accounting for about 60 percent of cases, while another 30 percent involve kidney or urinary diseases and the remaining 10 percent involve various complaints including neurological and skin conditions.
"The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky treats are not required for a balanced diet and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians, both prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets," the FDA said.
In addition to affecting dogs, three people who consumed the treats also became ill, two of whom were toddlers who reportedly consumed the pet treat by accident.
According to FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey, one child was subsequently diagnosed with a salmonella infection while the other suffered from a fever and gastrointestinal illness similar to symptoms exhibited by canines that ate the toxic treats. The adult had a headache and nausea after eating the treat.
While the source of the illnesses stems from jerky products made in China, U.S. companies that use Chinese-made products are also potentially dangerous to one's pet even though such products are labeled "Made in the USA."
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