No bones about it – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a consumer warning this week that innocently giving your dog a delectable bone to chew can potentially be a very dangerous thing to do.
“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, said in the warning. “Bones are unsafe, no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery or even death.”Stamper added, “Make sure you throw out bones from your own meals in a way that your dog can’t get to them.” She recommends immediately taking out the trash or placing the bones out of your dog’s reach until you can discard them. “And pay attention to where your dog’s nose is when you walk him around the neighborhood – steer him away from any objects lying in the grass.”
The FDA says these are the top 10 reasons why giving your dog a bone can be hazardous to his health:
1. Broken teeth, which may result in expensive veterinary dentistry.
2. Mouth or tongue injuries – These can be bloody and may require a trip to the veterinarian.
3. Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw – This can be frightening and painful for your dog, and expensive for you since it usually requires a visit to the vet.
4. Bone gets stuck in esophagus – This is the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag or choke, trying to bring the bone back up.
5. Bone gets stuck in windpipe – This emergency may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small piece of bone. Take your dog to the vet or animal emergency hospital immediately.
6. Bone gets stuck in stomach – Although the bone went down fine, it may still be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
7. Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage – This may also require expensive surgery.
8. Constipation due to bone fragments – Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to the vet.
9. Severe bleeding from the rectum – This is messy and can be dangerous. You’ll need to take your dog to the vet.
10. Peritonitis – This difficult-to-treat bacterial infection is caused by bone fragments that poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. It can kill your dog, so take him to the vet immediately.
Stamper suggests talking to your vet about alternatives to bones. “There are many bone-like products made with materials that are safe for dogs to chew on,” she said. “Always supervise your dog with any chew product, especially one your dog hasn’t had before. And always, if your dog ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”