Pet Product News Editorial Blog:
Monday, May 10, 2010
Dog Bones: Safe or Not?
I’m sure you’re aware of the recent FDA warning reminding consumers to toss out bones from their meals rather than feed them to their dogs. I’ve read several opinions from veterinarians around the country both in support and in opposition of the FDA guidance. The FDA points out several potential pitfalls with feeding dogs bones, among them broken teeth, mouth or tongue injuries, constipation, and bone fragments getting stuck in the dog’s digestive system resulting in surgery or in rare cases death. According to the FDA, “bones are unsafe no matter what their size.”
I take issue with such a blanket statement with regards to bones and dogs. Dogs wouldn’t be around if their digestive systems weren’t capable of processing bones. It is true that some bones are certainly potential hazards to dogs (e.g., cooked chicken bones, ham steak bones, small bones given to large dogs). However, with proper supervision most bones are safe and promote healthy oral hygiene. While I agree that feeding dogs bones from the dinner roast may not be the safest and best option, there are several reputable companies out there that provide quality meat bones of the proper size, shape and density. I do carry several different USA meat bones in my boutique (along with other options for people who are not comfortable with giving their dogs bones). It really comes down to educating yourself and providing your customer with the best options based on the size and chewing nature of their dog. The general rule for bones is “Bigger is better.” Some dogs will try to swallow bones or pieces of bones that are too big to be digested. For this type of dog, you want to stay with a larger, denser bone like a beef marrow bone rather than a smaller, less dense bone like a pork femur. For smaller, less aggressive chewers, a lamb shank or trotter bone is appropriate. Whatever bone is chosen, dog owners need to be aware and responsible for disposing of the bone when its size is such that it could become a choking hazard.
I’ve been giving my 13 year-old Chocolate Lab USA meat bones (e.g., beef marrow, pork femur, lamb shank) since she was a pup. I can remember two or three instances of stomach upset and/or loose stools attributable to the bones. However, I can accept that given her immaculate dental health at this point in her life. With just about anything, you have to weigh the benefits versus the potential hazards. Every year, hundreds of dogs are accidently strangled to death by their collars. Should we then discontinue using collars on our dogs? Of course not, since the benefits of having our dogs restrained by our side outweigh the potential pitfalls. Feeding dogs bones is no different.
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Dog Bones: Safe or Not?
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