Why the FDA Doesn’t Want You to Give Bone Treats to Your Dog

If you’re thinking about gifting your dog with some bone treats for the holidays, think again. Treats made with real bones can be just as dangerous for your dog as brittle animal bones, according to a new warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Giving your dog a bone treat might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery or even death for your pet,” stated Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA.

The products causing these health issues are different from uncooked butcher-type bones in that they are processed and sold as dog treats. They’re commonly marketed with names like Ham Bones, Pork Femur Bones, Rib Bones and Smokey Knuckle Bones. They may be “dried through a smoking process or by baking, and may contain other ingredients such as preservatives, seasonings and smoke flavorings,” the FDA reports.

From November 2010 to September 2017, the FDA received about 90 reports from veterinarians and pet owners about illnesses caused by these treats, including everything from mouth cuts to digestive tract blockages. Many dogs have choked on the treats. Fifteen of the dogs died.

The FDA has also received several reports about these products being moldy or splintering when chewed.

The number of dog illnesses from these treats reported to the FDA seems like it should be a lot higher. For example, in 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed against the manufacturers of Real Ham Bone Treats after the product allegedly killed at least six dogs and sickened hundreds more. The manufacturers denied they did anything wrong but decided to settle the action earlier this year.

The FDA warning doesn’t mention other popular dog treats like rawhide bones and pig ears because they “are not required as part of a complete and balanced diet for your pet,” a spokesperson told NPR. (But bone treats are?) “If you choose to feed your pet any of these products, watch your pet closely,” the spokesperson advised.

The new FDA warning is an update to a 2015 consumer alert. The administration has posted information about the dangers of bone treats on its website since 2010.

Keep Your Dog Safe

“We recommend supervising your dog with any chew toy or treat, especially one she hasn’t had before,” Stamper advised. “And if she ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

The FDA offers the following safety tips:

  • Be sure to keep chicken and other bones out of your dog’s reach when you’re cooking and eating.
  • Be careful what you put in the trash can and keep it secured from your pets. As the FDA noted, “Dogs are notorious for helping themselves to the turkey carcass or steak bones disposed of there.”
  • Ask your veterinarian about the treats and toys that are most appropriate for your dog. Many products are available that are safe for dogs to chew on.

You can report any problems with dog treats or food on the FDA website.

Photo credit: SNGPhotography


Monica R
Monica Rabout a month ago

No bones piriod1

Mike R
Mike Rabout a month ago

Thanks, shared.

Chad A
Chad Andersonabout a month ago

Thank you for the warning.

Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacsabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing..

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vagaabout a month ago


Marigold A
Past Member about a month ago

"Cooking" the bones will not prevent intestinal impactions and lacerations. If you love your dog just ditch the bones altogether ~ they are dangerous and they provide no health benefits.

NATALIE Sabout a month ago

In addition, they can crack or even break their teeth. This happened to my husky. I used to get soup bones from the butcher. My dog loves to chew so I thought this was not an issue until he had his check-up. The vet discovered he cracked his tooth and it need to be pulled. $900 later......no more hard bones for him.

Janis K
Janis Kabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

Virgene L
Virgene Labout a month ago

Why are these allowed? They should be banned. Thanks for the information.

Lenore K
Lenore Kabout a month ago