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Post Christmas Puppy Warning for Pet Owners

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
No Bone Treats for Canine Pets Warning from FDA

Did your family get a new pooch over the holidays? Many do; unfortunately however, good intentions toward that new family member can lead to possible emergency surgery that could cost thousands and a lot of heartache. Here’s one warning from the FDA that many pet owners are not aware of concerning a popular canine treat.


Pet owners are often reminded not to feed bones to dogs—especially during the holiday season when the scent of food is heavy in the air and your pooch is giving you that begging look in its eyes in the kitchen. But did you know that it’s not just bones, but bone-derived treats that can be harmful as well?

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.”

In a recent update on the dangers of giving bone treats to your canine partner-in-life, between November 1, 2010 and September 12, 2017, the FDA has received about 68 reports of pet illnesses related to bone treats. Those bone treats you give your pooch or accept at some hotels while traveling with them appear safe and are often advertised as a way to help clean dogs’ teeth. But what’s really in them and why can that be a health risk?

According to the FDA, bone treats are real bones that have been processed--through a smoking process or by baking--with preservatives, seasonings, and smoke flavorings added. Some commercially-available bone treats linked to the reports included packaging with the words “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones,” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones.” The problem appears to be due to that some bone treats still have the splinter danger of regular bones.

Illnesses reported to the 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.

But if you decide to skip the hard bone treats for something softer like jerky treats, you may still be putting your pet’s health at risk. According to an earlier FDA warning to consumers with pets about jerky treats:

Concerns about jerky pet treats skyrocketed in 2013, and by the end of 2015 the agency received reports that more than 1,000 dogs had died and over 6,000 fell sick after eating the treats. At the time, the FDA linked the illnesses to treats imported from China…"Pet owners should be aware, however, that manufacturers are not required to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products."

Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

• The FDA recommends that pet owners talk with their veterinarian about other toys or treats that are most appropriate for your dog, as there are many available products made with different materials for dogs to chew on. “We recommend supervising your dog with any chew toy or treat, especially one she hasn’t had before,” adds Stamper. “And if she ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

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• Consider bits of fresh fruit and raw vegetables as a healthy treat option for dogs--there aren’t any added preservative chemicals, artificial flavors or coloring and your pet benefits from the extra vitamins and minerals. “With regard to alternative treats, we recommend small amounts of fruits and veggies all the time,” advises Dr. Tony Buffington, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.

Safe Fruits and Veggies to Feed Dogs as Treats

Veterinary Pet Insurance of Nationwide Insurance offers the following list of safe fruits and veggies to feed dogs as treats:


UNSAFE Fruits and Veggies to Feed Dogs as Treats

• Avoid citric fruits, which may upset your dog’s stomach.
• Avoid feeding your dog grapes and raisins (known to cause acute renal (kidney) failure in dogs); and, peaches, plums and persimmons (their large pits could cause obstruction and if broken open may release natural cyanide chemical).
• Avoid onions, garlic, wild mushrooms and rhubarb, all of which can be extremely toxic to your pet.

If you have a pet poisoning story to share, please let us know about it in our comments section below so that we may share it with other pet owners to help keep their pets safe.


FDA Consumer Update “No Bones (or Bone Treats) About It: Reasons Not to Give Your Dog Bones

Veterinary Pet Insurance “Alternate Dog Treats

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