FDA warns of dog bone treats after 90 illnesses, 15 deaths reported

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Stock photo - MGN Online Stock photo - MGN Online
(KAKE) -

If you’re planning to give your dog a stocking full of bone treats this holiday season, you may want to reconsider. A warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration says dogs have become sick or died from dog bone treats.

The 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 agency said on its website.

Wednesday afternoon Cesar Gonzalez visited the Kansas Humane Society to find a dog, as he puts it, to add to his family.  Gonzalez said he is glad the FDA has put out a warning.  "I'm real picky about what they chew on, what they eat.  They're part of the family.  I don't want them to pass away and then have to deal with something like that."  

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.

Erin Jones supervises the Assessment and Rescue Department at the Kansas Humane Society.  Jones said, "The cooked bones and things like that are going to splinter off in their mouths and they can cause cuts. They can cause intestinal blockages and they can be toxic to your pets in some instances.  So things like that really shouldn't be given to your pet."  

“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,” said Carmela Stamper, veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA.

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 fifteen dogs reportedly died after eating a bone treat.

The reports went sent sent to the FDA by pet owners and veterinarians. They involved about 90 dogs, with some reports included more than one dog. The FDA also received seven reports of product problems, such as moldy-appearing bones, or bone treats splintering when chewed by the pet.

Here are some tips to keep your dog safe:

  • 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.

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

Click here to report a problem with a pet food or treat.

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