FORT THOMAS, Ky. - It's a deadly mystery: Hundreds of dogs are dying after eating a popular pet snack. Families are left suffering, and officials can't explain why it's happening.
Nearly 600 dogs have died since 2007 from chicken jerky treats made in China, the Food and Drug Administration says.
The FDA is asking vets across the country for help to figure out what's wrong with the treats, but helping a sick animal can be challenging.
"A lot of what we do is on the physical exam because obviously we don't have patients telling us where it hurts or what they feel like,” said veterinarian Jean Pritchard of the Ft. Thomas Animal Hospital.
“We find a lot in the physical exam and a lot within a half hour through blood work or overnight. But then you have these other conditions that might take weeks or even years to get answers."
Since 2007 more than 3,600 dogs have gotten sick from chicken jerky treats, according to the FDA.
"I think we've had three cases here and the chicken jerkies have kind of been on the watch list," Pritchard said.
The symptoms from eating the suspect jerky chicken are:
> a loss of appetite
> being lethargic
> diarrhea that could even be bloody
> an increase in drinking water or urination.
The only commonality after years of testing is that the treat is made in China.
But Pritchard said dog owners have to take extra precautions.
"Instead of saying, ‘Made in China,’ they'll put on the package, ‘Packaged in Canada,’ “ she said.
The FDA says to avoid giving chicken jerky to your animal.
Prichard's tip to giving jerky is sort of old fashioned.
“If you want to do jerky treats, you need to buy fresh chicken – human grade - and make your own,” she said.