We’ve all heard the expression, “Give a dog a bone.” While dog is man’s best friend, a bone is undeniably a pretty good pal to the pooch. The image of a dog contently gnawing on a bone is something we’ve seen countless times. However, the bone might be doing your fur baby more harm than good. It may be time you reconsider this age-old treat for your dog.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently received 68 reports about dogs getting sick from “bone treats.” Dogs undeniably love bone treats. We’re not talking about those little chewy milk bones you give your dog for rolling over and playing dead. We’re talking about the bones dogs bury in their backyards. The kind that come from the carcasses of dead animals.
The report differentiates between “bone treats” and uncooked “butcher-type” bones. There are a ton of varieties of these “bone treats” available at pet stores across the country. Just looking at the pet supply website Chewy, I was able to find dozens of bones for sale on the site. “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones,” were among some of the listed bone treats in the illness reports.
These bone treats have lead to a host of digestive tract issues. According to the reports, owners found that the bones caused choking, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, cuts to the mouth and tonsils, vomiting and in the most extreme cases, death. Sadly, there were 15 bone-treat related deaths. No owner should have to go through something so horrible because they wanted to reward their pup with a treat.
“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, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the FDA. While there were 68 reports, over 90 dogs were affected by the treats because some of the households had more than one dog. That’s a number that we shouldn’t take lightly.
Some of the reports also included defective bone treat products. Seven reports observed a moldy bone and/or the bone splintering off in the mouth of their dog when the animal attempted to chew it. On top of these problems, these store-bought bones aren’t good for your dogs at all. They are overly dried through the baking and smoking process. A lot of the bones can be loaded with preservatives, too.
The FDA also provided some tips on how to keep your dog safe from bone hazards. First, never give your dog (or cat, for that matter) a chicken bone. Chicken bones are extremely brittle and can easily splinter in your animal’s mouth. This can cause the host of issues that was outlined in previous slides.
Also, make sure you watch what you throw away in the trash can. Dogs especially are known to rummage through trash and start munching on whatever they find in there. Keep the lid on the garbage tight at all times. Also, make sure you take the trash out the minute it starts to overflow. You don’t want to tempt your pooch. To us it’s garbage. To them, it’s a treasure trove of goodies.
The FDA also recommends that you speak to your veterinarian about alternative treats for your dog. Dogs love to chew, and we get why you’d want to give your dog a treat to chew on rather than your nice pair of Italian shoes. You can find some natural animal-product chew options. You can also go for a safe rubber chew toy.
The American Kennel Club personally recommends bully sticks as a safe and animal-based chew toy for your dogs. They don’t splinter when the dog chews on them. They are also very digestible and a great source of proteins and amino acids for your dog. You may not like what the product is made of, but your dog honestly won’t care.
Bully sticks are made from beef pizzle. Beef pizzle is a cleaned, dried and oven baked bull’s penis. If your dog is a hardcore chewer, they may want to try a braided bully stick to gnaw on for a while. Bully sticks come in a variety of shapes and sizes for your doggos diverse chewing habits. They could try an uncut bully stick, which can get up to 48 inches long … yikes.
The American Kennel Club also finds that bully sticks are great for your dog’s teeth. Chewing on these sticks helps break down plaque buildup around your dog’s teeth. Gum disease is a major problem in dogs, so actually getting them into a chewing routine is good. You just need the right product.
Just don’t let your dog over-indulge in their bully treats. They are a high-calorie food. A study found that bully sticks can contain 9 to 22 calories per inch, and with some bully sticks being extremely long (remember 48 inches!!), a snack can turn into an entire extra meal. “With obesity in pets on the rise, it is important for pet owners to factor not only their dog’s food, but also treats and table food,” said Lisa Freeman, a professor of nutrition at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
If having your dog chew on bull penises isn’t your thing, just try to find a safe alternative. Even an uncooked thick ham bone is better than the processed bones you can buy at supermarkets. But, always make sure you’re monitoring what your dog is eating.