PR Web - Since 2007, jerky treats imported from China have sickened over 3,600 dogs and 10 cats. Nearly 600 pets have died as a result of consuming the treats, which are manufactured by several different companies and may contain chicken, duck, sweet potato or dried fruit. The FDA has still not identified the contaminant that is causing gastrointestinal and kidney illness in pets, despite extensive testing.
Dr. Isabelle Bach of Pet Medical Center reports that visits to her veterinary hospital in Temecula, Calif. are up in response to this news. Pet owners who have fed jerky treats want to know if their pets are at risk, and many clients are asking about alternative healthy and safe treats for their pets.
In response to these questions, Dr. Bach has compiled the following tip sheet on how to select and use pet treats:
Feed treats sparingly. The first rule of feeding pet treats is to remember that they should not constitute a significant portion of any pet’s diet. All pets should be eating a quality pet food that can provide all the nutrition they need. Treats should be used as rewards for good behavior or as a bonding opportunity.
Check the label. As a general rule of thumb, the fewer chemicals and preservatives that your pet consumes the better. By checking the label of pet treats before buying, you can avoid treats that are stuffed with chemicals.
Consider fresh foods. Cut up apples (with seeds removed), bananas, strawberries and carrots are all safe treats for dogs, while cats typically prefer a freshly cooked meat like tuna or chicken. Ask your vet before feeding any type of people food to your pet.
Bake your own treats. Homemade pet treats are a great alternative to processed treats because you get to control the ingredients and there are no preservatives. Dr. Bach recommends looking for recipes that are low in sugar.
Consider special dietary needs. Remember that as pets age, their dietary needs change. This may affect the type of treats that you choose. For example, senior pets should have hard, crunchy treats rather than soft, chewy ones in order to help support dental health. Also, if your pet has any known allergies you will obviously want to avoid treats with ingredients that would trigger the allergy.
Monitor pets after treats. When introducing any kind of treat to your pet, start with a small amount and then be alert to any adverse reaction, such as decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption or increased urination. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop feeding the treat and consult your veterinarian immediately.