When I ask my clients what treats they feed their dog I am always amazed at the high percentage that talk about giving bones to their pet. YIKES…..the hair on the back of my neck stands up!! I always think of the many times at RYAH ( the last 14 years!) or in my many years of emergency practice where I have seen a dog that has ingested bones and then required emergency treatment and/or surgery!
Dogs eat some bizarre things (the diamond earrings come to mind….) but I have seen more dogs for eating bones than any other item!
Not only can bones damage or break the teeth but the sharp edges can cut the tongue and gums. Needless to say, when a bone splinters and then is swallowed the sharp edges can cause irritation to the throat and intestinal tract and can actually perforate the stomach or intestinal tract. When whole large bone pieces are swallowed the bones can cause vomiting and possible blockages that require emergency surgical intervention and can be life threatening.
In my last 2 years alone at Royal York Animal Hospital, I have personally had to sedate and remove a piece of round marrow bone from three individual dog’s lower jaws. In each case, the owners gave their dogs the marrow bone thinking it would eat only the marrow…..but instead the circular bone became lodged over the lower jaw.
So, what is a good choice instead of bones? Treats should be tempting and chewable so they are NOT swallowed whole. They should also be of good quality — remember that they are a treat and not a meal! We recommend……………………….. Toys should be made of a hard rubber so they can take a lot of chewing abuse. Thin rubber squeaky toys can be pierced by the dog’s teeth and cause fragments that may be swallowed. Depending on the size of the pieces of rubber ingested the pieces may pass naturally or need surgical intervention! Damaged or overly chewed toys should be throw out!
’til next time. Dr. John