FDA warns pet owners of dangerous jerky treats

The Food and Drug Administration is asking dog and cat owners to report any problems their pets have had after eating jerky pet treats.

In a notice to consumers and veterinarians published Tuesday, the agency said it has linked illnesses from jerky treats to 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007. About 580 of those pets have died.

The FDA says its Center for Veterinary Medicine has run more than 1,200 tests, visited pet treat manufacturing plants in China and worked with researchers, state labs and foreign governments but still hasn't determined the cause of the pet illness.

The FDA says pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea among other symptoms within hours of eating the jerky treats.

VCA Palmetto Animal Hospital Medical Director Dr. Laurel Berger-Bishop explained that she hasn't seen any cases but warned her clients to be cautious.

"I've been telling people not to feed it for six months, really, not because we know what's wrong with it, just because we can't be sure."

Dr. Berger-Bishop added that it's extremely rare to come across an illness of this kind tied directly to a product like this.

"Usually if there's, if you can tie a cluster of cases to some sort of a product you can usually identify what it is in the product that is the problem."

Until they find the cause of the illness, the product you should avoid are treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes, or dried fruit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.