Some ‘bone treats’ dangerous for dogs, FDA says after 15 deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCMH) – The Food and Drug Administration is warning against giving dogs “bone treats” after dozens of reports of illnesses and at least 15 deaths.

According to the FDA, the “bone treats” are different from uncooked butcher-type bones. They are processed and packaged for sale as dog treats. A variety of commercially-available bone treats for dogs — including treats described as “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones,” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones” — were listed in about 68 reports to the FDA.

The products may be dried through a smoking process or by baking, and may contain other ingredients such as preservatives, seasonings and smoke flavorings.

According to Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, “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.”

Illnesses reported to FDA by owners and veterinarians in dogs that have eaten bone treats have included:

  • Gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract)
  • Choking
  • Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum, and/or
  • Death

Approximately 15 dogs reportedly died after eating a bone treat. The reports, sent in by pet owners and veterinarians, involved about 90 dogs and some reports included more than one dog. In addition, FDA received seven reports of product problems, such as moldy-appearing bones, or bone treats splintering when chewed by the pet.

The FDA offered the following tips:

  • Chicken bones and other bones from the kitchen table can cause injury when chewed by pets, too. So be careful to keep platters out of reach when you’re cooking or the family is eating
  • Be careful what you put in the trash can. Dogs are notorious for helping themselves to the turkey carcass or steak bones disposed of there
  • Talk with your veterinarian about other toys or treats that are most appropriate for your dog. There are many available products made with different materials for dogs to chew on

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