Chicken jerky treats recalled after 500 dog deaths

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Pet owners, check your pantry and make sure you aren't feeding them dangerous dog treats.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in the wake of the deaths of 500 dogs after they ate chicken jerky treats made in China.

So far, the FDA has not been able to confirm a link between the treats and the ailments, but New York state officials say they found traces of an antibiotic in jerky treats that were tested.

"Normally they would be good as long as it's a good quality of treat, so right now I would tell people if it says 'Made in China,' you ought stay away from it because right now we just really don't know," Jacksonville veterinarian Craig Sandler said.

The recalled pet treats are as follows: Nestle Purina PetCare Co.'s Waggin' Train, Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats, Del Monte Corp.'s Milo's Kitchen chicken jerky, and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats.

Publix stores recalled its private brand Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats, and IMS Pet Industries Inc. withdrew its Cadet Brand Chicken Jerky Treats sold in the U.S.

Sandler gave suggestions on what to look for when buying pet treats.

"There are so many of them out there that I would really investigate and always recommend going to a pet store and not to a supermarket," he said.

Sandler said pet owners can give their pets fruit, except for grapes and raisins, or give them veggies because pets love them, they are natural and they prevent weight gain. Another option is buying treats from a pet bakery, or even some human food is OK instead of processed treats.

"When you cook your chicken, get all the skin and the bones and just give them the breast, and that would be a great treat, also very healthy," Sandler said.

The voluntary recalls effectively remove the pet treats from store shelves nationwide, but FDA officials say they still haven't solved the mystery of what's been making animals sick.

"How often do I ask if they are giving jerky treats? Well, I'll do it a lot more often now," Sandler said.

FDA officials will continue to investigate animal illnesses tied to jerky treats.

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