Pet owners feed bones to their dogs and it has seemed as natural and healthy
as letting them run free across fields and meadows.
But vets are now warning people not to give their dog a bone, because
it could kill them.
The British veterinary charity PDSA has issued the warning after
its vets and nurses reported seeing dozens of dogs suffering from damage to
their digestive tracts and blockages caused by bone splinters or larger pieces.
‘Feeding bones to dogs can damage to their digestive tracts and blockages caused by bone splinters or larger pieces.’
The advice appears to run counter to many dog owners' assumption that their
pets benefit from chewing on raw or cooked bones as a way of absorbing calcium
and other nutrients and cleaning their teeth.
Rebecca Ashman, a senior vet with the PDSA, Britain's leading veterinary
charity, said: "We don't recommend bones as treats because unfortunately
our vets and nurses regularly see dogs with digestive tract damage and
blockages caused by splinters or larger pieces of bone being swallowed and
She added: "Surgery is usually needed to remove any blockage and, in
some cases, the damage is so serious that it can be fatal. Similarly, if they
swallow a large piece of rawhide chew this can become stuck and cause serious
However, the president of the Australian Veterinary Association, Robert
Johnson, said raw bones were acceptable so long as they were part of a
"complete, varied diet".
"Make sure the bone is in fact raw," Dr Johnson said.
"Definitely don't feed dogs cooked bones."
British supermarket chain Tesco stopped selling natural bones marketed
especially for dogs following a number of fatalities, including the death of a
two-year-old miniature schnauzer Burtie, who fell ill after a ham bone
became lodged in his stomach.
Ms Carey welcomed the advice now handed out by the PDSA.
"Of course you wouldn't think that a potentially lethal product can be
packaged up as a dog treat and sold to unsuspecting pet owners," she said.
Latest figures from the PDSA showed that, last year, its hospitals treated
59 dogs who swallowed bones, although no figures for injuries or fatalities
The charity's warning has been echoed by the British Veterinary Association.
"We ask owners to never feed their pets cooked bones, and to also
dispose of any bones left over from their own meal safely and securely to avoid
pets seeking them out again," the association's junior
vice-president, Gudrun Ravetz, said.
"If owners feed their dog raw bones we would recommend speaking to their
veterinary surgeon to understand the risks and to only do so as part of a
"Handling raw meat and bones can also have risks for human health. We
would not advise feeding cats raw bones."
Vets have also warned of the dangers of giving dogs rawhide chews, made from
the skin of an animal.
As well as being produced, in some cases, by using harmful chemicals such as
bleach, hydrogen peroxide and even arsenic, rawhide chews can also pose a
danger of choking the animal.