Earlier this year, the FDA concluded a report about the dangers of dog bone treats. Coby Richter, DVM, DACVS, blogs about an example of why dog bones can cause fatal complications.
Every time I walk by the bulk bins in certain grocery stores, I recall a beautiful middle aged Boxer dog that died because her family decided to give her a new treat. She’s not the only death from a bone treat that I’ve witnessed in the past couple of years, and she is far from the only esophageal foreign body case that ended sadly, but she sticks in my mind.
I distinctly remember the owner describing how he saw the processed (baked) and cut bone treat and just knew his dog would love it. These bone treats smell amazing (better than the chemicals used in many of the rawhide-style treats), they are thin like a cracker and they actually look like something an omnivorous human might want to gnaw. His dog was so excited about the bone treat, after taking one exploratory bite off the end she wolfed the entire treat in one go. In her case, the bone treat was about 7 inches long, 2 inches wide and ¼ inch thick and it lodged in her esophagus. Radiographically you could see the outline nearly spanning the length of thorax. The owner didn’t worry too much at first as he had seen her do the same with rawhide treats and she never experienced a problem. He wasn’t thinking about the difference between a solid plank of cooked bone and a wad of rawhide.
By the time the owners brought their dog into DoveLewis the following day, the bone had perforated her esophagus in multiple spots resulting in contamination of her thorax. Endoscopically the bone looked like the bow of a great ship, dividing and stretching the esophagus beyond its limit. Facing pyothorax and esophageal reconstruction, the owners elected humane euthanasia for their dog while she was under anesthesia. There was little I could tell this owner to soften the knowledge that he intentionally gave this treat to his best buddy.
Processed (cooked and cut) bone treats have found their way into many shops, from the grocery store to the upscale pet salons. I know how tempting it is to give your dog something particularly yummy to chew and consume. I just wish all pet owners could have an honest idea of the risks they are willingly undertaking when they give certain treats to their pets. Literally anything can cause obstruction, so there really is no such thing as a completely safe treat. Unfortunately, these processed bone treats appear to be some of the most risky things you can give Fido.
To read the full article, No Bones (or Bone Treats) About It: Reasons Not to Give Your Dog Bones, published by the Food and Drug Administration, click here.