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Potentially Deadly Dog Treat Warning

CEDAR RAPIDS  (CBS 2/FOX 28) --
   Veterinarians across the country are now being urged to talk to dog owners about pet treats and hundreds of mysterious deaths. 
   Pet treats are a $41,000,000,000 business and almost all of us have fed them to our own dogs as a training reward or just to see their tails wag.  Over a span of six years at least 600 dogs have died and thousands more have become ill just hours or a few days after eating jerky treats from China. 
   Right now the FDA says three brands seem to be behind the mysterious deaths, Waggin Train, Canyon Creek Ranch and Milos Kitchen. Investigators say it isnt clear whats in the treats that might be causing the dogs to die. 
   None of the veterinary clinics we spoke with in Cedar Rapids have seen the problems, but after several dog and cat food recalls Dr. Ryan Steen at the Frey Pet Hospital says he understands why owners are concerned. 
   "Obviously they have to use caution, and the FDA has information where you can go and look and see where some treats and foods have been implicated in these issues, but at the end of the day it comes down to just monitoring your pet closely and watching for symptoms," said Steen.
   Vets say while cats may be finicky, dogs usually eat anything thats put in front of them.  Another complication is the symptoms, vomiting and lethargy,  mimic a number of other pet ailments that rarely end in death.
   At the Cedar Valley Humane Society safe food is a top priority because so much of it is donated by many generous people in the community.  Jan Clarke says they rely on those donations to operate and are grateful people care enough about homeless animals to help.  At the same time, they check every item that comes in.  Staff checks all food and treats for expiration dates and then they search websites for news of warnings or recalls for those brands.
   "We always want to make sure were feeding our animals the healthiest food possible and make sure that anything we send home treat-wise is going to be safe for the animals.  I mean, thats kind of  what we do so were always careful about things like that," said Clarke.
   Veterinarians note that most of the dogs that have died are smaller breeds and may be more susceptible to whatever is making the animals ill.  They also remind pet owners that treats are not an essential part of a dogs diet and it may be best to just stop feeding jerky pet treats until investigators have some answers.

 
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