Thursday, January 24, 2013

No Bones About It: Bones are Unsafe for Your Dog

Folks love to give their pets bones to chew on, but so many people don’t realize that this can cause serious injuries to their pets. The FDA recently released a statement saying that all bones are unsafe to give regardless of their size. As well as being a Lap of Love Veterinarian, I also work as an Emergency room Veterinarian and injuries/illness related to bone ingestion are a very common occurrence. Allow me to itemize the most common presentations to the ER:

1.) Broken Teeth- dogs can fracture their canines or molars, sometimes causing pulp exposure. This is very painful and usually requires either tooth extraction or a root canal.

2.) Mouth or Tongue injuries- I have seen several cuts on the gums, cheeks, tongue and palate from bones splintering into the mouth.

3.) Bones stuck/looped around the lower jaw. I see this most commonly with ham bones- the circle ones with a hole in the center. These get lodged behind the canines of the lower jaw, the dogs panic and then injuries as listed above occur. I have had to sedate the patients and then use a Dremmel tool to saw the bone out of the dog’s mouth in some cases.

Bone stuck in the esophagus, or food pipe. They will hack, retch and try to vomit, but often times may have to be sedated to have the bone piece physically removed.

5.) Bone stuck in the trachea or wind pipe. This happens when the dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of the bone- this is an emergency as they will have trouble breathing.

6.) Bone stuck in the stomach- the bone makes it down ok, but now it may be too large to exit the stomach or be fragmented and stuck in the wall of the stomach. These cases require either surgery or Endoscopy to use a camera with a grabbing device attached to retrieve the bone.

7.) Bone stuck in intestines causing a blockage- this is very common in dogs and cats that eat chicken/turkey bones because the diameter of the small intestines decreases leading away from the stomach and towards the colon. When bones become stuck in this area it usually requires surgical removal.

8.) Constipation due to bone fragments and rectal bleeding- bone fragments are very sharp and very little of the actual bone is digested, meaning what goes in must come out. Often times the fragments scrape the colon and rectum which is very painful for the patient.

9.) Peritonitis- this is a very serious condition when a bone fragment punctures the stomach or intestinal lining causing leakage of stomach/intestinal contents into the abdomen. A bad bacterial infection and fluid build up with occur- this condition is life threatening and very painful.

Please make sure all bones from meals are thrown away so the pet cannot access them and pay attention to where your dog’s nose is going while out on walks. It only takes a second for a dog to snarf down something that could lead to trouble.

There are many alternatives to animal bones to satisfy an animal’s natural desire to chew. I recommend talking with your regular Veterinarian to see which ones they prefer. Many products are made with 100% digestible materials. As always, supervise your pet with any new chew product and visit your Veterinarian if you notice any vomiting or diarrhea. In summary, I would honestly resist the urge to give your dog that turkey or ham bone around the holidays; if not, I may be seeing you in the animal ER!

Read more or contact Dr. Amanda:

Dr. Amanda Grant, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Broward County, Florida  |

Serving Broward County, Florida, including: Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point,  Hillsboro Beach, Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, Oakland Park, Wilton Manors, Coral Springs, Tamarac, Plantation, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Oakland Park, Ft. Lauderdale, Aventura, Miramar, Hollywood, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City, and Weston.

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