Local vet explains why bones can be deadly for dogs

U.S. & World

LANCASTER, OH (WCMH) – The FDA is warning pet owners against giving dogs “bone treats” after dozens of reports of illness and at least 15 deaths.

In the report, packaged products like ham bones, pork femur bones, rib bones and knuckles caused choking and blockages in the digestive track, among other things.

While we all like treating our pets, especially during the holidays, veterinarian Dr. Jodi Smith said giving your dog a bone could result in an unexpected and expensive trip to the operating room.

“It’s called the carnaissal premolar and it is the most common tooth to fracture,” said Dr. Smith. “I probably do extractions on this tooth 20 times a month.”

That is just one reason why she said dogs should never be fed any kind of bone. Dr. Smith has an 11-year-old bichon frise on the operating table who has two fractured teeth and an infection. She said people don’t typically see anything wrong with those teeth because they’re so far back in the mouth.

“We never advise feeding bone,” said Dr. Smith. “That’s what people don’t realize is how many teeth get fractured from the impact of chewing down on an abrasive thing and cracking a tooth.”

She said bones are abrasive and can splinter causing a lot of other serious problems in your pet like pressure, necrosis and trauma to the gut. If a swallowed bone doesn’t pierce the stomach wall, it could sit in the organ for months or even years.

“[It can] cause chronic irritation, occasional vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhea,” said Dr. Smith. “Or it’ll try to move through the intestine and become obstructed and cause severe pain, shock, sepsis and ultimately death if the animal is not treated surgically.”

She said to stay away from all bones (including chicken or turkey), knuckles, hooves from cattle, pig ears and antlers.

Instead, she said to give your dog a rubber kong that can be filled with food or choose another safe toy option.

“Other things that we like to use are toys that have chew guard technology,” she said. “They have an extra lining in here that makes these toys really hard for aggressive chewers to chew.”

Dr. Smith said while you’re preparing your holiday meal, keep meat and bones up and away from pets. Also, make sure to properly dispose of garbage so a wandering dog doesn’t go through it and grab a bone.

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