MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- More than 1,000 reports of dogs dying, and thousands of reports of dogs getting sick -- linked to Chinese-made jerky treats.
As of May 1st, the FDA has received more than 4,800 reports of illness -- affecting a total of 5,600 dogs, 24 cats and three people.
More than 1,000 dogs have died -- and there have been 1,800 new cases of illness since the last FDA report in October of 2013.
Katherine Kearny Carpenter Park in Mequon keeps Dennis Fall's dogs very happy almost every day.
"It's a community park, it really is. More for dogs, but certainly for people also," Fall said.
Taking his dogs to the park is like a daily treat!
But there are other treats Fall has to worry about.
"I heard stories on the news that products coming out of China or other places that weren't necessarily good for the animals," Fall said.
Dr. Noah Arnold is a veterinarian at the Thiensville-Mequon Small Animal Clinic.
"The most common sign that we've seen has been kidney problems, which manifest with increased drinking and urination and inability to urinate," Dr. Arnold said.
Dr. Arnold says there are simple alternatives to purchasing treats for dogs.
"Baby carrots are low-calorie. They're delicious. They're not going to make your dog chunky. So if you can get away with that, do it," Dr. Arnold said.
Otherwise, pet owners are encouraged to buy American-made products. American-made products are considered safer because our regulatory standards are stricter than other countries.
"You've got to get the treats that are sourced in America and that are supplied by ingredients in America," Mark Haslam, the owner of the Feed Bag Pet Supply store said.
Haslam says he tries to stock American-made products in his store.
"It opens up the door for people to start looking at their dog's source of food from more of a natural perspective," Haslam said.
That's something Fall makes sure to do for his dogs.
"Your animal is almost like your child, so when it comes to the animal's health -- whether it be products that he's consuming, rawhide that he's chewing on, you want the best products possible," Fall said.
Petco has announced it is getting rid of all cat and dog treats made in China.
Petco says it will remove the China-made treats from its stores by the end of the year.
The FDA hasn't been able to pinpoint a direct link between the China-made treats and pet illnesses -- which is why it hasn't issued a recall.
The FDA says it has called upon the expertise of the Centers for Disease Control to to conduct further studies and research.
But Petco says customers' concerns are enough for them to pull Chinese-made treats from store shelves.
PetSmart has said it will pull the China-made treats by March 2015.
The FDA is working with laboratories across the country to investigate causes of these illnesses. To date, testing for contaminants in jerky pet treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses.
The FDA has tested for:
- Metals or Elements (such as arsenic, cadmium and lead, etc.)
- Markers of irradiation level (such as acyclobutanones).
- Antibiotics (including both approved and unapproved sulfanomides and tetracyclines)
- Antivirals (including amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and others)
- Mold and mycotoxins (toxins from mold)
- Nephrotoxins (such as aristolochic acid, maleic acid, paraquat, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, toxic hydrocarbons, melamine, and related triazines)
- Other chemicals and poisonous compounds (such as endotoxins).
Testing has also included measuring the nutritional composition of jerky pet treats to verify that they contain the ingredients listed on the label and do not contain ingredients that are not listed on the label.
CLICK HERE to find out what your veterinarian and you can do about this situation.