Dogs and bones. The two are almost inseparable: What dog doesn't like chewing and then hiding a bone?
But a growing number of vets across the country are raising concerns about a popular dog treat that they say is injuring, even killing some pets: Cooked pork bones.
Most dogs chew on rawhide bones, which shred to harmless fiber when chewed.
But many stores are now selling pork bones, and dogs love them. Some people feel they are better, as they more resemble natural bones.
But a growing number of online complaints list all sorts of injuries that owners blame on these bones.
Gene Balzer believed the packaging, which said the pork bones were good for his dog's Bella and Reggie's teeth. But then his dogs started getting sick, he said.
"It was actually in the vomit," Balzer said. "There was little pieces of the bone in there. They were still sharp."
What the Experts Say
We found dozens of complaints from owners who spent thousands in vet bills, and even lost their dogs, after giving them pork bones. And x-rays show several images of where those pieces can end up lodged inside a dogs body.
So we put them to the test. It took just seconds to send a pork bone splintering into shards.
Emergency vet Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald sees these kinds of injuries on a weekly basis.
"I am an expert," Dr. Fitzgerald said, "and in 30 years I've seen a lot of problems with this type of food. Many of these sharp ones can cause perforations or lacerations as they go through."
He says brittle bones are among the most dangerous because of how dogs eat. "They're gorging, they're grabbing, they're gonna swallow things in one gulp," he said.
Regulations are Weak
The FDA investigated and recommended that processed and cooked bones never be given to dogs.
So why are these potentially dangerous bones still in stores?
We found the industry is largely self-regulated. The FDA requires pet food products be ‘pure and wholesome' and ‘truthfully labeled.'
But these federal regulations apply only to the ingredients, not product safety.
It's something pet owners like Balzer want changed. "I really want to get this out there so other people don't feed their dogs pork bones," Balzer said.
Stores selling pork bones for dogs say they stand behind their products, and say they're safe. But if you have any doubts about a product call your vet, before you give it to your pet.
That way he's safe and you don't waste your money.