FDA Issues Updated Warning About Dog Bone Treats

The US Food and Drug Administration has recently issued a revised warning about giving your dog packaged “bone treats.”  While there are also dangers in giving your dog real bones you get from the butcher, the FDA is emphasizing the health risks of processed and packaged bone treats.

These bone treats are sold at many brick and mortar and online retail outlets.  They may be labelled as pork femur bones, ham bones, rib bones, or smoked knuckle bones.  The bones are dried by smoking or baking, and contain preservatives and flavorings.

What are the health risks of bone treats?  The FDA has received reports from veterinarians and pet owners on the following issues:

  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Choking
  • Cuts and other wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Risk of death (15 cases of dogs dying after eating bone treats have been reported)

Other problems with the treats themselves, such as mold and splinters, have also been reported.

The FDA recommends these common-sense tips to keep your dog safe around bones and bone treats:

  • Keep dishes of your food scraps that contain bones (especially small bones like chicken) out of reach of pets.
  • Monitor your dog around the trash if you throw away bones or poultry carcasses.
  • Talk to your vet about safe chew toy options (like Kongs) as a replacement for bones and bone treats.
  • Remember to supervise your dog around all chew toys and treats to prevent accidental ingestion.

 

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How to Play with Your Dog Using Scent Games

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We all know that a dog’s sense of smell is many times more powerful than a human’s. Not only do they have more scent receptors in their noses, but the part of the brain that analyzes scent is much larger in dogs as well. We’ve put dogs to work because of their great sense of smell for hundreds of years…but what about a little bit of fun with smell too?

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Modern Dog magazine has put together a great list of scent games you can play with your dog. Here are a few simple ways to engage your dog’s sense of smell. Be sure to check out the article for full details and more games HERE.

Hide treats around the house: Place treats in different places that your dog can find by accident. You can mix up the hiding locations and types of treats you use. For even more fun, hide a treat-filled food dispensing or puzzle toy.

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Play “pick the hand”: Put a tempting treat in one of your hands and place both hands out (loose fist, palms down). Move your hands back and forth and let your dog find the treat. Praise your dog when you open your hand and give him the treat.

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Play hide and seek games: You can play the classic hide and seek game with your dog both indoors and outdoors. Your dog will use her sense of smell to find you. Make sure you have a reward ready when she does.

The “shell game”: Hiding a treat under one of a group of cups and then moving them around is a canine take on the old shell game. You can increase the number of cups as your dog gets better at finding the treat.

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Make scent trails: Put a scent your dog likes on a ball (a small amount of chicken fat, peanut butter, or even essential oils) and play with it. Then begin hiding the ball and putting the scent down in a trail (you can use small pieces of paper) leading to the toy. Then try removing the trail and have your dog find the ball on his own.

 

Easy “Pupsicle” Treats for Your Dog

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With temperatures rising into the 90s–and beyond–this summer, make sure your dog stays cool and hydrated with some yummy frozen pupsicle treats. Here are a few super-easy recipes you can whip up in a breeze for your best friend. Why should humans have all the fun?

Peanut Butter Banana Pupsicles

Combine 5 oz. plain yogurt, ½ banana, and 2 tbs. peanut butter in a blender. Puree until smooth and pour into an ice cube tray. Insert a pretzel stick in the center of each and freeze 1-2 hours.

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Superfood Pupsicles

Combine 1 mashed banana, 1 container plain lowfat yogurt, fresh blueberries, and 2 tbs. peanut butter. Place in ice cube trays and freeze for 3 hours.

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Frozen Meatball Pupsicles

Combine 2 cups minced cooked chicken, ¾ cup plain lowfat yogurt, 1 mashed cooked carrot, a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley, and 3 tbs. olive oil. Put in ice cube tray or drop onto lined baking sheet and freeze.

Fruity Pupsicles

Combine 15 chunks of watermelon, 1 banana, and 1 tsp. honey in a blender. Mix until smooth and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze for 2 hours.

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Pet Jerky Treats from China: Information from the FDA

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With the recent announcement from Petco that the company would no longer be selling dog and cat treats manufactured in China, many pet owners are wondering what exactly are the dangers associated with Chinese-made pet treats? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Animal and Veterinary Health Division provides concerned pet owners with useful information on this issue.

The FDA notes that this pet treat problem impacts mainly dogs that have fallen ill or died from ingesting jerky treats made in China. The FDA has received close to 5,000 reports of pet illnesses that are thought to be connected to the treats. Nearly 6,000 dogs (and a smaller number of cats and people) have been affected, with around 1,000 canine deaths. 60% of the reports are related to gastrointestinal illnesses and 30% to kidney/urinary issues. The other 10% are reports for skin and neurological problems.

The FDA experienced a big surge in reports after its first large scale public update in October 2013. At this time it also began to work with the American Veterinary Medical Association on this issue. Investigations of the reports have confirmed a significant number of adverse health effects related to the Chinese jerky treats, including a rare kidney disease called Fanconi Syndrome. Post-mortem exams of deceased dogs did not uncover a direct link between the treats and death, but kidney and gastrointestinal diseases were identified.

The FDA is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a study that will examine dogs sickened by the treats compared to a group of healthy control dogs. Researchers are particularly interested in studying Fanconi Syndrome and other kidney problems.

The majority of the Chinese jerky treats linked to illness are made from chicken. Some contain other ingredients. Many brands are involved, with the one common factor that they came from China. Pet owners should be aware that even if treats are not made in China, they could still contain ingredients sourced from China.

Some treat products were removed from the market in early 2013 after unapproved antibiotics were found in them. Testing of jerky treats has found a wide range of contaminants and toxins that are harmful to pets. These include Salmonella bacteria, pesticides, rodenticides, metals and mycotoxins (fungus and mold). The FDA more recently began testing for amantadine, an anti-viral drug given to the chickens, which is prohibited by the FDA.

What should pet owners do about jerky treats? The FDA notes that this type of product is intended as a small, occasional treat and not a main component of a pet’s diet. Owners who feed their pets these treats should watch for decreased appetite and energy, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased water consumption and urination. Stop feeding your pet the treats and have your vet conduct tests for kidney problems. Save the remaining treats in the original packaging. You can submit a complaint to the FDA and the treats can be tested.

For more info on this issue and to learn how to submit a report to the FDA, click HERE.

Image by Shane Adams [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons