Give the Dog a Bone... or NOT!
December 5, 2017
You may remember a children's song called "This Old Man", where amongst the knick-knacks and paddy-whacks you are told to "Give the Dog a Bone". It makes sense. After all, the oldest depictions of our canine companions are cave drawings of a prehistoric dog lying around a campfire gnawing on the leg bone of a hunter's prey. Plus, most of us have heard people say feeding bones to dogs is natural and healthy. It can certainly be argued that a hungry pack of wolves would likely devour their kill as true carnivores living in the wild. But, just because something is naturally-occurring doesn't mean that it is healthy.
Cooked Bones Are Always Off Limits
With Christmas and New Year's feasts just ahead, it is important as a pet owner to avoid giving your furry friend ANY cooked bone. During the cooking process, bones dry out and become brittle. This makes them too easy to break into sharp shards that pose unknown dangers as they pass through the dog's digestive system. Raw bones are generally safer but it is very important to use good judgment in selecting an uncooked bone for your pet. Some veterinarians recommend that you pick a very large raw leg bone with pieces of meat and connective tissue still attached. This provides the mental stimulation of chewing and can help keep your pet's teeth clean with less danger of breaking a tooth.
FDA Warns "No Bones" or "Bone Treats"
Every year about this time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers about the risks of giving their pets natural bones and bone treats. During the past seven years, the FDA received reports of 90 dogs that became sick after eating commercially-available smoked or baked bone treats. Fifteen of those pets died. According to the agency, many of these natural treats are exposed to heat during processing making them the same as (or worse than) a cooked bone from the dinner table. In addition, it is important to be careful of what you put in the trash during the holidays, as dogs are known for helping themselves to leftovers.
It is always prudent to ask your veterinarian about which treats are best for your pet. Age, breed, weight and general health can also matter when selecting holiday treats. Moreover, it is a good idea to supervise your dog while they enjoy any treat. This is especially true if your pet is a "Gulper" and tends to swallow that last bit of treat without chewing on it first. Enjoy the Holidays and keep your best friend safe.