FDA warns bone treats for your dog can be deadly


Our dog Jefferson is crazy about Milk Bones, clean-breathed greenies, and just about any other dog treat thrown in his path. If these aren’t available, he’s known to settle for heirloom shoes, plush, and even quilts – at least before he gets caught.

But there’s one thing Jefferson won’t sample: bone treats made from real bones.

Most dog owners know that you shouldn’t give your pet a brittle, brittle chicken bone to gnaw on, but “bone treats” at the supermarket or pet store are advertised as a safe alternative. However, last November, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned pet owners: bone treats have been linked to 15 deaths among companion dogs and 90 reports of illnesses.

Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, suggests that bone treats are just too risky. “Giving your dog a bone treat can lead to an unexpected trip to your vet, possible emergency surgery, or even death,” she said in a press release. “We recommend that you supervise your dog with a chew toy or treat, especially one that he has never had before. And if she’s not acting properly, call your vet right away.

Risks associated with bone treatments

Bone treats are not the same as uncooked butcher’s bones. With names like “Rib Bones”, “Smokey Knuckle Bones” and “Ham Bones”, they are often cooked or cured by smoking or contain ingredients such as seasons, smoky flavors and preservatives.

Diseases related to bone treats reported to the FDA by pet owners and veterinarians include:

  • Blockages in the digestive tract
  • Choking
  • Cuts in the mouth or on the tonsils
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Death

The FDA has also received reports of moldy bones and bone treats breaking when chewing.

Keep the bones away from Bowser

Of course, regular bones aren’t good for your pet either – they can shatter and cut or suffocate your pet, too. Plus, dog treats like dried pork ears or rawhide may contain salmonella.

Here are some precautions:

Keep your eyes on the prize. It’s easy to forget and leave a plate full of chicken or turkey bones on the table, and unfortunately some dogs are big enough (or cunning enough) to reach for them. So keep plates out of reach when cooking, clear the table after meals, and make sure your dog doesn’t slip a chicken thigh while you’re not watching.

Close that tempting trash can. As the FDA observes, “Dogs have been known to use turkey carcass or steak bones thrown into it.” They are also likely to use coffee grounds, cans of Keurig coffee, and other dangerous items. Use a simple lock on the trash can door or throw the bones in the large boxes outside (or you may be using your pet insurance earlier than expected).

Avoid rawhide chew bones. Earlier this year, United Pet Group recalled a slew of rawhide chews for dogs including American Beefhide, Healthy Hide, Companion, Dentley’s, Enzadent, Good Lovin, ‘Hill Country Fare and Priority Pets, among others. Some manufacturing plants were located in other countries that used quaternary ammonium compounds, which are not approved for rawhide production in the United States and are linked to health issues in dogs, including stomach irritation, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Find safe alternatives to bone treats. Talk to your vet about the best chew toys for your dog. And while you watch, keep these new shoes out of the reach of the little sharp teeth nearby.

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