No Bones (or Bone Treats) About It: Reasons Not to Give Your Dog BonesBone treats are real bones that have been processed, sometimes flavored, and packaged for dogs. 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.
NOTE: FDA initially published this Consumer Update in 2015, and has had information on this topic on its website since 2010. The agency regularly updates the number of reports around this time of year as a reminder to pet owners about the potential problems associated with giving bone treats or turkey/chicken bones during the holidays.
Many dog owners know not to toss a turkey or chicken bone to their dog; those bones are just too brittle. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the risk goes beyond that, especially when it comes to the “bone treats” you may see at the store.
What’s a Bone Treat?FDA has received about 68 reports of pet illnesses related to "bone treats,” which differ from uncooked butcher-type bones because they are processed and packaged for sale as dog treats. The reports were received between November 1, 2010 and September 12, 2017. 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 the reports. The products may be dried through a smoking process or by baking, and may contain other ingredients such as preservatives, seasonings, and smoke flavorings.
So if you’re planning to give your dog a stocking full of bone treats this holiday season, you may want to reconsider. According to Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) 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 ReportedIllnesses reported to FDA by owners and veterinarians in dogs that have eaten bone treats have included:
Tips to Keep Your Dog SafeHere are some tips to keep your dog safe:
To report a problem with a pet food or treat, please visit FDA’s Web page on “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.”
Updated: November 21, 2017
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