Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Give Your Dog a Bone?

"How many bones can my dog have before she dies? Because I think my mom has given her like five already in her lifetime."

This was the question posed to me from a 3rd grader this morning. Just as important as what our pets can eat? What they can't eat. Cooked bone is one of them.

Many people grew up giving their dogs cooked bones, not realizing the danger. Bird bones like chicken and turkey are too small. Our dogs can easily choke on them. What about bones from bigger pieces of meat?

"Some people think it's safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast," says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration. "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 even death."

When we cook our meat, the bone hardens. As our dogs chew on them, they splinter off into sharp, tiny pieces that can lacerate their throat, stomach or intestinal tract. Larger chunks can get lodged in the esophagus, windpipe, stomach or intestines. It can cause constipation and your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they're very sharp. If they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along, they can cause severe bleeding. Perotinitis is also a danger - caused by puncture holes in the stomach or intestines, this bacterial infection is hard to treat and can be deadly.

"Six could be the unlucky number," I told her. "You never know which cooked bone is going to do it. It's not worth the risk, is it?"

"No way. I'm gonna tell my mom to stop!" She paused, her brow furrowed in thought, then asked. "What about raw bone?"

What indeed. That will be our Friday post.

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