Get the latest from TODAY
Bone treats can be deadly for your dog. That's the dire warning recently issued by the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The government agency says it's received 68 reports of dogs that have been harmed by the treats — leaving around 15 of them dead. The dogs suffered blockage in their digestive tracts, choking, cuts and wounds in the mouth and tonsils, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding from the rectum.
Here's the FDA's definition of the treats in question: "Real bones that have been processed, sometimes flavored, and packaged for dogs." They carry names like "Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones."
The FDA also recommends against feeding your dog chicken bones or other bones from the kitchen table, as these can cause serious injuries, too.
Since we all want to keep our pets healthy, happy and well, we asked Michael San Filippo, spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association, for recommendations on alternatives to bone treats.
Non-edible chew toys made of rubber and nylon are generally safe, San Filippo said in an email. But still take care since "these can break as well. If you think your dog has eaten a large chunk of a nonedible chew toy, you should contact your veterinarian," he said. "And always remember to observe your dog with a new toy or treat to make sure that it's safe and appropriate."
San Filippo added that the best course of action is to consult with a veterinarian for more individualized recommendations as to what toys and treats will be best given your dog's size, health and temperament.
Now here's another recommendation: Go hug your dog! (Only if they like it. If that's not their thing, then perhaps try a warm pat on the head instead.)