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A mysterious epidemic is hitting man’s best friend hard and there’s still no solution.  Jerky treats have been causing an unexplained illness among pets since 2007.  Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no idea what causes this illness besides ingestion.

As of Oct. 22, 2013, the FDA reports the jerky-related illness among pets has involved 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007, while killing 580 of those pets.  The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has completed more than 1,200 tests to date, yet the illness is still a mystery.

The elusive illness seems to be contained to treats, including jerky tenders or strips made of duck, sweet potato, chicken or dried fruit. If you have fed your pet these jerky treats, keep an eye out for symptoms, which include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, increased water consumption, and increased urination.  The FDA reports most of these treats are made by Chinese manufacturers. (For more information on what to look out for, check out the FDA Fact Sheet on jerky pet treats.)

In addition to continued testing of the treats, the FDA is working closely with facilities in China as well as Chinese authorities to locate the origin of the illness.  Back here at home, the FDA is contacting licensed veterinarians to keep an eye out for possible future cases.

However, the best solution may come from pet owners taking a proactive interest in what they feed their pets.  Although you may not want to eliminate a treat for your little family member, you can easily introduce more natural, vegetable options.

As a culture, we have made progress in our awareness of what we consume.   We want to put the best food possible in our bodies for a healthy life.  However, do we always extend this courtesy to our furry friends?

Dogs and other pets are subjected to eating the food their guardians provide for them.For this reason, it is important that pet owners provide their pets with balanced and nutritional food and treats.  The inclusion of vegetables in a meal for a dog is just as important as it is for a child.

This jerky illness epidemic further sheds light on the importance of knowing where one’s food comes from and what ingredients are hiding inside.  The lack of regulation in China has resulted in our pets ingesting harmful toxins.  Like the fight against GMOs, pet guardians should have the right to know what is in the food they give their dogs.

If this news has scared you into a paranoid mess over what to give your dog, why not give them whole foods?   Find easy ways to incorporate healthy veggies in your dog’s diet right here.

 Image Source: Pål-Kristian Hamre/Flickr