2001-Tue Mar 28 11:56:02 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
A. Chicken bones can and do kill dogs. All bones, whether raw or cooked, can potentially fracture teeth and block or tear the throat, stomach and intestines. Raw bones have additional risks that concern both veterinarians and public-health officials: foodborne pathogens such as salmonella. Bacteria such as this are a risk not only to the animals eating the diets, but for other pets and people in the household, particularly for the very young, very old and immunosuppressed. The risk isn't limited to raw meat, by the way, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that all pet food and treats need careful handling.
Many people now feed their dogs and cats what’s known as the BARF diet (for “bones and raw flesh” or “biologically appropriate raw food"). These pet owners are generally well-educated people who are trying to do what’s best for their pets; however, their devotion to this style of feeding borders on religious zealotry in the minds of many veterinarians.
I personally feed brand-name commercial diets from top companies to all my pets. As a veterinarian, I have a difficult time with the idea that a diet based on science and feeding trials could be so easily dismissed by pet owners who are so committed to their pet’s health. I have known many of the veterinary nutritionists working in the industry for many years, and I am comfortable with their work and their integrity. But I also know many intelligent pet owners who provide their animals with a home-prepared diet that includes raw, meaty bones.
I doubt that I will ever be completely comfortable with a raw diet, but I have no problem with people who want to maintain their pets on a home-prepared cooked diet in consultation with their veterinarian, preferably one that was vetted by a veterinary nutritionist. I just ask them to keep in mind that if they are not careful to research before they start and to source their ingredients carefully, they may end up with a diet that is not nutritionally balanced and, in the case of raw foods, contaminated with harmful bacteria. We just don’t know enough about all the possible formulations of home-prepared diets to say, hands down, that they are OK.
I am well aware that many pet owners will disagree with me. The number of people who feed raw chicken bones (along with other raw muscle meats, organs and bones as part of a raw diet plan) and have perfectly healthy animals is no doubt proof that feeding a raw chicken bone to a dog is not the automatic death sentence many pet owners have long believed it to be.
But as a veterinarian with more than three decades of experience, I still can’t, in good faith, recommend a raw food diet to my clients as the best option for their pets. The science of pet nutrition is constantly evolving, though, and the debate on this issue remains a healthy one within the veterinary community.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.