The FDA Has Issued a Warning to Dog Owners About Store-Bought Bones

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A dog may be man’s best friend, but a bone has long been dog’s best friend. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning pet owners that the irresistible treat can do serious harm to your pooch. Last week, the FDA updated its consumer website to warn pet parents against giving their pets any store-bought “bone treats.” The organization has received approximately 70 reports of illnesses related to bone treats, and more than a dozen fatalities—and it’s not one specific brand or kind of treat that's causing these problems.

According to the FDA’s website:

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. So if you’re planning to give your dog a stocking full of bone treats this holiday season, you may want to reconsider. According to Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the FDA, “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.”

In addition to being a choking hazard, these bone treats have caused vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal blockages, and cuts and injuries to dogs’ mouths and tonsils. An estimated 15 deaths have been linked to these treats.

According to Stamper, if you notice any difference at all in your pet's behavior after consuming one of the many bone treats on the market, it’s best to call your veterinarian right away (he or she can also help you determine which toys and treats are best for your pup). When in doubt, there are plenty of quick and easy dog treats you can make at home for your pet.

Though no specific recall has been issued, the FDA is urging pet owners who have experienced bone-related health issues to report them via the agency's online complaint form.