Yesterday I saw a post on facebook warning people not to buy ham bones from a certain producer. A dog died after splinters from one of the bones had caused bleeding to the stomach.
‘But surely’, I thought, ‘the owners must have known all bones are high risk treats’. The producer of the fatal ham bone stated clearly on the packaging that dogs must be supervised when fed it.
All bones carry risks of chocking, a blockage in the digestive tract, cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils and internal bleeding that can cause death. Gnawing on bones might result in the cracking of the tips of the fourth premolars which can lead to root infections. Raw bones are a breeding ground for bacteria.
Even though most vets don’t recommend bones, they remain a popular treat. Dogs love them, they are ‘natural’ (but then, so is consuming undigested food from faeces or vomit) and they do have quite a few benefits as well.
I give bones to my dogs. Carefully selected, as an extremely rare treat and always under my supervision. If any of my dogs had jaws powerful enough to break them, I’d stop. If they became too obsessed or aggressive, I’d stop. If I saw any other reason they shouldn’t chew on their bone, I’d stop. Altogether, for ever.
I’m well aware that there are risks. And if something happens, I will be responsible, not the producer, not the butcher, not the vet or insurance company for not banning bones.
If you’re ready to take risks, however well calculated, be prepared to accept responsibility.