by: Diana Davis Updated:
ATLANTA - The Food and Drug Administration said nearly 600 dogs and cats have died after eating jerky pet treats.
Channel 2 Action News first reported on pet illness and deaths more than a year ago.
The FDA is now reaching out to pet owners and veterinarians after nearly 3,600 pets were sickened. It wants to hear from anyone whose pet became sick after eating the treats.
Gary Conner's King Charles spaniel, Crispin, suffered with kidney failure. He was euthanized.
Weeks earlier, Connor said he had switched his dog's treats to chicken-wrapped snacks made in China.
"It never crossed my mind that I might have been contributing to his demise because I loved him like a child. He was just a brave little dog. We miss him so much," Connor said.
Marietta veterinarian Dr. Michael Good told Channel 2's Diana Davis he had treated several critically ill animals.
"It's probably chemicals that are used to either enhance the flavor or the freshness or the palatability," Good said.
The FDA has tested hundreds of dog treats for everything from bacteria, salmonella to metals, pesticides and other chemicals. So far, they have not found the cause of the problem.
Good said he's seen a variety of troubling symptoms in affected dogs.
"Depression, listlessness, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, in severe cases, internal organ failure… liver, kidney," Good said.
The FDA does not mention brand names.
Labels often say the treats are made in the U.S., but the fine print may or may not indicate that some of the ingredients may be from China, according to Good.
"The product could be assimilated or made here, but parts of the nutritional components come from China," Good said.
Good said to skip pre-packaged treats, unless or until their safety can be guaranteed.
"I'd like to see a little more thought. I like to see a little more patience in creating pet products, not to rush them to market. Pet owners are at the mercy of the manufacturers," Good said.