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Are Dog Bone Treats Dangerous? Here’s What You Should Know

By Danny Prater

Are dog bone treats dangerous? A statement issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rippled across the internet, sparking discussions about the potential dangers of giving dogs processed bones to chew on and ingest as treats. According to reports, dozens of dogs are known to have fallen ill or been injured by bone treats, and at least 15 have died, but the actual number of unreported cases is likely much higher.


However, this warning is nothing new. In fact, the FDA only re-released an already-existing statement detailing the dangers of giving bone treats to dogs as a cautionary measure in advance of the holidays, as people are more likely to give the special dogs in their lives bone treats as gifts. According to the FDA, bone treats pose the following threats to dogs: oral wounds, choking, vomiting, intestinal blockage, diarrhea and even death. A dog experiencing symptoms may require an emergency visit to the vet and possibly even surgery.

What Can You Do to Keep Your Animal Companion Safe?

Don't give dogs unsafe treats like cooked bones, pig ears, cow hooves or jerky treats.

Dogs may think these items are special, but they can cause a lot of harm. Processed animal bones are often brittle with jagged edges and can result in a very sick dog. Dogs who ingest these types of products can develop conditions like gastroenteritis and pancreatitis, both of which can result in vomiting and may even require hospitalization for IV fluid support. Since 2007, at least 4,800 dogs and cats have fallen ill, and more than 1,000 dogs have died of kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding and Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disorder, after eating jerky-style treats. These are only the cases that were documented, and countless other dogs may have also been adversely affected.

Choose treats that are size-appropriate.

Offering a treat that is too small may cause dogs to swallow an object whole, while feeding them one that is too large could cause a fragment to get stuck in their throat. Treats should break into small pieces as the dog chews.

Try these bone-free treats and foods instead!

There is a wide variety of safe, fun dog treats to add to your holiday shopping list for the dogs and dog lovers in your life. Bone-free treats are available from vegan retailers like V-dog. And check out this Holiday Dog Treat Wreath, which is decorated with vegan treats from Threepaws Gourmet. All the brands and products listed in our Vegan Dog Food Guide are also worth checking out.

You can find other animal-friendly items for your dog to chew on (or wear) at PETACatalog.

Keep an eye on your dog.

Recreational chewing can be a healthy way to keep your dogs' teeth clean, but remember that it's always important to keep a close eye on them. They can't always communicate their pain or discomfort clearly to their human guardians, so it's important to recognize what "normal" looks like—and to realize when they may be in trouble.

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