Rewarding our dogs for their good behavior (and adorable faces!) is a tradition in many households. But a new FDA warning is advising dog owners that bone treats are NOT a healthy or safe option. In fact, rewarding our dogs with bone treats can have deadly consequences.

The FDA says that it has received at least 68 reports of pet illnesses involving bone treats. 15 dogs have died and at least 90 dogs have become ill (The FDA reports reflect a number of households with more than one dog). Bone treats are not cooked or raw bones from meat. They are specifically made and packaged as dog treats. You see them in every pet store and in most supermarkets.

No specific brands were mentioned in the FDA report. A variety of bone treats, including treats described as “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones,” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones,” were listed. The bones may be dried through smoking or baking and “contain preservatives, seasonings, and smoke flavorings.” Because they have been dried out, they break more easily into smaller slivers that can severely injure your dog.

Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the FDA says: “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.”

Yikes.

Injuries and illnesses reported to the FDA by dog owners and vets have included:

  • Gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage of the digestive tract)

  • Choking

  • Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Bleeding from the rectum

  • Death

The FDA recommends these tips to keep your best friend safe:

  • Never leave food within reach, especially food containing bones. Chewing on bones can cause injury

  • Be careful of what you throw away. Our dogs are smart and can easily forage into accessible garbage cans. Eating an entire chicken carcass is not unusual for a dog with a big appetite and a trash can he can get into

  • Speak with your vet about healthy and safe treat options. There are many products on the market that are much safer for your pet

  • Never leave your dog unattended when he/she is enjoying a treat. Especially for their first time

 

“We recommend supervising your dog with any chew toy or treat, especially one she hasn’t had before,” Stamper adds. “And if she ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

So, what is a safer, healthier alternative? Ask your veterinarian! There are plenty of options in your local pet store like faux antlers, KONG toys, and vegan chews. Your dog can be rewarded SAFELY for that cute face, we promise!

To report an issue with pet foods or treats, please visit the FDA’s Web page on “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.”

h/t FDA Website