April 27, 2010 -- Pet owners commonly give their dogs bones as a reward, but
the FDA says in a new consumer warning that it’s not good for dogs to chew on
bones because they can cause serious injury or even death.
“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham
or a roast,” Carmela Stamper, DVM, a veterinarian in the FDA’s Center for
Veterinary Medicine, says in an FDA Consumer Update. “Bones are unsafe no
matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate
for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or
Stamper says pet owners should throw away bones from meals and make sure
dogs can’t sniff out and find discarded bones. She suggests putting bones in
the trash immediately, or out of the dog’s reach until you have a chance to
dispose of them safely.
And when you’re walking Fido around the neighborhood, pay attention to what
the dog sniffs and “steer him away from any objects lying in the grass.”
The new warning lists 10 reasons why it’s a bad idea to give bones to your
Broken Teeth. Bones can break teeth, requiring expensive veterinary
Mouth or tongue injuries. Bones can break and become sharp, causing
bloody, messy injuries also requiring treatment by a vet.
Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be
frightening or painful for your dog, and potentially costly because a
veterinarian’s help is usually required.
Bone gets stuck in esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that food
travels through to reach the stomach. If a bone gets stuck here, your dog may
gag and drool. Removal of the bone can be difficult, requiring endoscopic
equipment or a complicated surgery. If the bone is not removed promptly, the
esophagus may rupture and cause a life-threatening infection in the chest
Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This happens if your dog accidentally
inhales a small piece of bone and can be an emergency if your pet has trouble
breathing. When this happens, the FDA says, get the dog to the vet
Bone gets stuck in stomach. The bone may be too big to pass out
of the stomach and into the intestines. When this happens, invasive surgery or
an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy may be required. An endoscopy is a
procedure in which a veterinarian uses a long, flexible tube with a built-in
camera to find the bone and then remove it with special grabbing tools.
Bone gets stuck in intestines. This causes an intestinal blockage,
requiring prompt surgery.
Constipation due to bone fragments. Dogs may have a hard time
passing bone fragments, because they are sharp and can scrape the inside of the
large intestine or rectum as they move toward the outside world. This can cause
severe pain and may require a trip to the vet.
Severe bleeding from the rectum. When this happens, it’s not only
messy but dangerous for your pet, which will need to see a veterinarian.
Peritonitis. This is a hard-to-treat bacterial infection of the
abdomen, caused by bone fragments poking holes in the dog’s stomach or
intestines. Aggressive and expensive care is needed to manage this problem.
Left untreated, peritonitis is fatal.