The FDA Warns Against Bone Treats After The Deaths Of 15 Dogs

by Christina Marfice
Image via Robert Daly / Getty Images

Whatever you do, steer clear of bone treats for your dog

It’s pretty much common knowledge these days that you shouldn’t give your pooch bones from the meat you cook. But bone treats, which are made from animal bones and packaged and sold as dog treats, aren’t any better, as it turns out. A new report from the FDA warns against giving dogs any kind of bone treats, and says they can cause severe illness and injury or even death to dogs who eat them.

According to the report, the FDA has received 68 reports of dogs that got sick, and 15 reports of dog that died after eating bone treats, which include treats marketed as “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones,” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones.” The treats are real animal bones that are baked or smoked until they dry, and sometimes contain flavoring, seasonings, or preservatives. They’re sold at pet stores, which leads many pet owners to assume they’re safe treats, even if they know animal bones should be off limits to Fido.

Image via B.Aa. Sætrenes / Getty Images

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The FDA reports that bone treats have caused intestinal blockage, choking, cuts in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and rectal bleeding in about 90 dogs from 68 households that submitted reports.

“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 FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

There have also been a handful of product quality complaints about bone treats from consumers who say they’ve appeared moldy, or splintered while their dogs chewed on them.

The FDA offered a few tips in its report to help keep dogs safe. Keeping food platters out of reach of dogs is a good practice, as is disposing of meat bones somewhere other than the trash can, somewhere pups are notorious for going looking for snacks.

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

The FDA is also asking for people who have had problems with bone treats to submit information. They have a page on their website dedicated to reporting complaints about pet food and treats.

In the meantime, scratch bone treats off your list of possible stocking stuffers for your pooch. There are plenty of other great dog treats out there that will make much safer alternatives, and if you’re not sure what’s best for your pup, consult your veterinarian.