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:
Cuts and other wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
Vomiting and diarrhea
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.
Many FACE financial grants for critical veterinary assistance are awarded to owners of dogs with a serious spinal condition called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). IVDD is a major cause of pain and paralysis in certain dog breeds, especially those with short legs like the Dachshund, French Bulldog, Corgi, Basset Hound, and Pekingese.
In IVDD, the discs in a dog’s spine can degenerate over the course of time or suddenly herniate, depending on the type of IVDD the dog suffers from. IVDD is a painful condition that often requires surgery and physical rehabilitation.
Recently, researchers at the University of California Davis have discovered the genetic mutation responsible for chondrodystrophy, which is a genetic trait that many IVDD-prone breeds share. It’s characterized by changes in bone growth, leading to short long bones (legs) and premature spinal disc calcification and degeneration.
The scientists report that dogs with IVDD are 50 times more likely to have this mutation. The gene identified, the FGF4 retrogene, was found to play a key role in bone development for dogs with chondrodystrophy. FGF abnormalities in humans can lead to conditions like dwarfism.
Identification of this mutation can help control the incidence of IVDD in dogs. The UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory offers two genetics tests for breeders and owners of short-legged breeds prone to IVDD. Breeders can test for IVDD risk in their dogs, identifying those that are carriers of 0, 1, or 2 copies of the gene.
Has your pet been diagnosed with cancer? One in four dogs and one in five cats will develop cancer in their lifetimes. Experts say that the number of pet cancer cases is rising, as advances in veterinary medicine are increasing the lifespans of our companion animals.
Here are a few important facts about cancer for all pet owners.
Common symptoms of cancer in pets
Abnormal lumps or swollen areas
Sores that do not heal
Difficulty breathing or eliminating
Most common pet cancers
Mammary gland tumors. These are more common in dogs than cats.
Skin tumors. Tumors in cats tend to be more malignant than in dogs; some canine tumors can be benign.
Head and neck cancer. Especially common in the mouth and nose.
Lymphoma. A common cancer in both dogs and cats. Lymphoma in cats is linked to second-hand smoke exposure.
Bone cancer. Older, large breed dogs are especially at risk.
Pet cancer prevention tips
Spay and neuter your pet. This greatly reduces the risk of cancer in the mammary glands and sex organs.
Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Obesity can cause many health problems, including cancer.
Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise.
Brush your pet’s teeth and visit the vet for regular oral exams.
Keep pets, especially those with white fur, out of the sun to avoid the risk of skin cancer.