Make No Bones About It: Some Bones and ‘Bone Treats’ Can Kill Your Dog
We’ve all been there when your dog gives you the sad-eyes routine after you’ve finished your chicken or pork feast. Most of us know to resist the temptation to give them the bones. These bones are just too brittle and can cause irreparable harm to dogs. Experts from the American Kennel Club agree that poultry and pork bones, as well as any cooked bones, are unsafe for dogs and strictly forbidden. They splinter into shards that can cause choking and serious damage to the dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines.
Just when we thought it was safe to give your dog the next best thing — known as “bone treats,” — the Food And Drug Administration issued a new warning on Nov. 21 that will scare you straight about giving your dog a variety of these bone clones.
Take note of these bone treats for dogs, including “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones,” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones.” While these products may be delicious with a dried or smokey flavor, they may contain other ingredients that will warrant a trip to the vet.
“Giving your dog a bone treat might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery, or even death for your pet,” Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, said in the statement.
Several illnesses reported to the FDA by owners and veterinarians involved about 90 dogs that have eaten bone treats. Approximately 15 dogs died after eating a bone treat, the worst and the most unthinkable side effect to your dog enjoying a treat. Non-fatal symptoms included gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract), choking, cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding from the rectum.
“We recommend supervising your dog with any chew toy or treat, especially one she hasn’t had before. And if she ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away,” Stamper added.
Not all bones are bad for dogs. Real bones, such as beef shank, are a good source of minerals and other nutrients that help satisfy your dog’s appetite, according to the American Kennel Club.
It’s best to give your dog a bone after a meal. The bone shouldn’t be larger than the length of the dog’s muzzle so it will be impossible to swallow whole. Such large breeds as German shepherds, bloodhounds, and mastiffs should be given larger bones, such as beef shanks. You don’t want your dog to ingest too much bone, so take it away after 10 to 15 minutes and place it in the refrigerator. Dispose of a bone after three or four days.
Supervision is most important with any type of bone. To report a problem with a pet food or treat, visit the FDA’s page, “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.”
Make no bones about it, the best advice is to talk with your veterinarian about other toys or treats that are most appropriate for your dog. There are many available products made with different ingredients or materials that will keep your dog happy and occupied — and alive.
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