A growing number of dogs are suffering kidney problems after being fed pet treats an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine at Murdoch University has found.
Dr Sue Foster is one of the vets in Australia who works to identify and follow up on cases of acquired renal tubulopathy (also known as Fanconi’s syndrome) in dogs.
She said the toxin which causes the illness had not been identified and a number of treats from a number of manufacturers could be involved.
“It has been difficult to pinpoint the particular treats because Australian dog owners often feed so many different treat brands to their dogs,” said Dr Foster.
“If dog owners want to feed treats, the best option is to use a small portion of commercial dog food, an appropriate morsel of human food or home-made treats prepared with veterinary advice.
“If using commercial treats, then it would be wise to limit their feeding to an occasional special treat, for example, a small treat once or twice a week. If you are feeding commercial treats and your dog seems lethargic, is off its food, has an increased thirst and is urinating more regularly then it is best to see your vet who can carry out the appropriate tests.
“The illness is normally very treatable with most dogs making a complete recovery if treats are removed from diets completely. But very occasionally more serious illness and death occurs. The cases we have seen are mostly in small dogs.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association has also issued a warning to pet owners about treats after a growing number of Fanconi’s Syndrome cases in the United States.
It says: “It is up to you to decide whether or not you will feed your dog chicken jerky treats. If you choose to do so, we recommend that you feed them in small quantities and only on occasion. This is especially important for small-breed dogs.”
Dr Foster agreed with the warning but said the problem in Australia was not just confined to chicken jerky treats.
She and her colleagues Dr Linda Fleeman and Dr Mary Thompson (who has just accepted an appointment as Associate Professor in Small Animal Medicine at Murdoch University), have identified the problem in dogs eating pig’s ears and other porcine products in addition to some chew-type products. While most seem to have an Asian origin for ingredients, it has not been confined to products made in Asia.
Their research into the issue has helped establish PetFAST (Pet Food Averse Event System of Tracking), which is an initiative of the Australian Veterinary Association and the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia.