The Food and Drug Administration is warning pet owners that dogs should not be given processed "bone treats" after receiving 68 reports of pet illnesses and deaths.
No specific brands were named and there were no images of the specific bone treats, but a variety of commercially-available treats described as "Ham Bones," "Pork Femur Bones," "Rib Bones," and "Smokey Knuckle Bones" were listed by the agency.
The products are different from uncooked butcher-type bones; they're processed — smoked or baked — and may contain preservatives, seasonings and smoke flavorings.
"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," Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian with the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, said in the report.
The illnesses were reported to the FDA by veterinarians and owners of dogs that had eaten the bone treats. Symptoms included: blockage in the digestive tract; choking; cuts or wounds in the mouth; vomiting and diarrhea.
The cases involved about 90 dogs — some reports included more than one pet per owner. Approximately 15 dogs reportedly died after eating a bone treat.
The FDA also received seven reports of problems such as moldy-appearing bones, or bone treats splintering when chewed by the pet.
The FDA has previously cautioned owners about feeding real bones to their dogs, including chicken bones or large bones from a ham or roast.
If a dog has consumed any kind of treat and "just isn't acting right", contact a vet immediately, Stamper said.