There is a considerable amount of controversy over whether or not to feed dogs bones as treats. And, what about pig ears? Or jerky pet treats? While bones, jerky treats, pet chews and pig ears seem to be natural choices to give your dogs to nibble and chew on, here are some facts that you may want to be aware of before you start to dole out the treats.
The FDA has issued several warnings to dog owners about dishing out the bones. This warning from the FDA says that “bones are unsafe for your dogs”, no matter what size they are. They continue on to say that giving your dog bones can lead to broken teeth and mouth or tongue injuries. They also state that bones can get caught around the lower part of your dog’s mouth, stuck inside their esophagus, in their windpipe, in their stomach, or in their intestines. Bone fragments can also cause constipation, sever bleeding from the rectum or peritonitis, according to the FDA.
Jerky Treats & Pet Chews
The FDA warning that jerky treats that were mostly made in China were causing ongoing illnesses leads us to wonder if we should be feeding any jerky treats to our dogs. The warning states that the FDA had received approximately 4,800 complaints regarding jerky treats and canines. Issues that were reported include gastrointestinal illnesses (about 60% of reports) and kidney and urinary signs (about 30%). The other 10% of reports included skin irritation, hives, tremors and convulsions.
The FDA advises dog owners who still want to feed their beloved canines jerky treats or pet chews to keep the amounts that are given to a minimum, as they are treats and not pet food. The FDA also states that owners should watch their dogs for any strange signs of illness or different behaviors after eating the jerky treats. They also warn that jerky treats for dogs that are made in China are not regulated like the ones that are made in the U.S.A. You can read the FDA progress report on jerky treats here.
Pig Ears & Pet Treats
Salmonella poisoning has been the main cause of the FDA warning pet owners about pig ears. This important alert from the FDA explains why certain pig ears were recalled, while yet another recall by the FDA is documented here. Kasel Associates made the FDA recall for pig ears here, and you can find the recall for Boss Pet Products, Inc. pig ears on this FDA page, where they once again found them to be contaminated with Salmonella. Beef hooves pet treats have also made some of the recall lists, therefore making us wonder if we should be giving our dogs pig ears or beef hooves at all.
So, What Are the Safest Pet Treats?
Clinically, what we see in practice is that nothing is necessarily 100% safe for dogs. While a dog could choke on just about any treat or chew toy that you provide them with, their safety and health are definite concerns when it comes to treats. We see very few problems with pig ears, cow hooves, and rawhides as long as they’re sourced from the U.S. Almost all the problems we’ve seen with treats involves those coming from China.
And for a good, healthy chew toy – especially for puppies – we have a lot of success with raw marrow bones or whole femur bones. Make sure they’re given raw, and be sure to take them away as soon as they start to get soft. And remember to use any chew toys only as an adjunct to a normal, healthy diet, and never as a staple.