Pet owners may want to rethink rewarding their dogs with bones after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration released a warning of the risks of the much-coveted treat.
The FDA has received dozens of reports detailing pet illnesses -- and even deaths -- relating to "bone treats," it said on its website. Bone treats differ from uncooked butcher-type bones because they are processed and packaged for sale and are commercially available for dogs.
Among the descriptions for the bone treats listed in the reports are "Ham Bones," "Pork Femur Bones," "Rib Bones," and "Smokey Knuckle Bones," according to the FDA. The bones may be dried through a smoking process or by baking and can contain other ingredients such as preservatives, seasonings and smoke flavorings.
"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 at the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Illnesses that were reported include choking, gastrointestinal obstruction, or blockage in the digestive track, cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding from the rectum and even death, according to the FDA. About 15 dogs died after eating the bone, the FDA reported.
The reports involved about 90 dogs and were sent in by pet owners and veterinarians, the FDA said.
The FDA also received seven reports detailing problems with the products, which included moldy-appearing bones or bone treats splintering when chewed by the pet.
"We recommend supervising your dog with any chew toy or treat, especially one she hasn’t had before," Stamper said. "And if she ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!"
The FDA also reminded pet owners that chicken and other bones from the kitchen table can cause injury when chewed by pets because they are so brittle.