For the first time in seven years, complaints that jerky pet treats made in China are sickening and killing America’s animals, mostly dogs, have fallen sharply, federal officials said Thursday.

Between May 1 and Sept. 30 last year, 270 complaints of illnesses tied to the treats were received, down from about 1,800 complaints filed with the Food and Drug Administration in the previous reporting period.

That’s the lowest tally since the FDA first began warning consumers in 2007 about possible ties between chicken jerky treats and pet illnesses, including digestive troubles, kidney failure and a serious condition known as Fanconi anemia.

Overall, however, the agency has logged more than 5,000 complaints involving 5,800 dogs and 25 cats — including about 1,000 dogs that died after reportedly eating the popular treats. Three people also were sickened, including two toddlers and an adult who admitted snacking on the chicken, duck or sweet-potato treats.

And the FDA has still not identified a source or a cause for all of the suffering.

The drop in complaints follows reports that two of the nation’s top retail pet care chains, Petco and PetSmart, announced plans to pull jerky treats made in China from store shelves by this year.