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Attention pet owners: Dangers lurk in bone treats

According to the FDA, approximately 15 dogs have reportedly died after eating a bone treat. Thinkstock / Special to The Forum

Dear Readers: In addition to pointing out the risks of giving dogs leftover bones from cooked meals, the government has posted a warning about the processed bones sold in pet supply stores.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has received dozens of reports of dog illnesses related to processed "bone treats," and that the risk of such treats goes beyond that of regular bones. A wide range of bone treats were listed in the FDA statement, including items described as "ham bones," "pork femur bones," "rib bones" and "smokey knuckle bones."

According to Dr. Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA, "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."

Dog illnesses reported to the FDA by owners and veterinarians have included: gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract), choking, cuts and wounds in the mouth or tonsils, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding from the rectum, and death. According to the FDA, approximately 15 dogs have reportedly died after eating a bone treat.

Dear Dr. Fox: I was upset when I read your recent column about the "Worst Mistakes Pet Owners Can Make." You wrote (about dogs bred to look and act like perpetual puppies) "these dogs most likely have the canine equivalent of Williams syndrome, characterized by hyper-sociability and limited intellectual abilities." I found your attitude and words cavalier and insulting to people with Williams syndrome.

As the grandmother of a child with Williams syndrome, I don't want her diagnosis put in the same category as dogs that are commercially bred and/or genetically manipulated. Williams syndrome is a chromosome irregularity, occurring in approximately 1 in 10,000 births. These children are more than "hyper-sociable with limited intellectual ability." They have great human value, and they contribute greatly to the lives of the people they come into contact with.—E.F., Norman, Oklahoma

Dear E.F.: I understand your sentiment, but wish you to understand that we humans are animals—more similar to dogs, both genetically and emotionally, than we are different. That you found my short encapsulation of the behavioral signs of this condition "cavalier and insulting" is regrettable. But thanks for emphasizing that these children "have great human value"—so do the dogs who share a similar genetic condition. My main concern for them is their evident "perpetual puppy" over-dependence and vulnerability to separation anxiety.

Dear Dr. Fox: I have just joined the board of GREY2K USA Worldwide. As the founder of Birmingham Greyhound Protection and Candy Cane Rescue, I have been working to save greyhounds across the globe, particularly in the United Kingdom and China. Today, I am excited to announce the launch of a new resource for international greyhound advocacy. Our new website ( contains updated information and photos, more volunteer opportunities, and creative ways for you to help the greyhounds every day. Also, we have just received more of our 2018 greyhound calendars from the printer, and urge you to buy one!—Kerry Elliman, U.K. Director of GREY2K USA Worldwide

Dear K.E.: I have a longstanding respect and admiration for these dogs, having rescued one when I was a little boy after she escaped from a racing dog kennel. I hope readers will help support your efforts for these beautiful and much-abused dogs.

Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox's website at