During these tough economic times, we all want to give to those less fortunate. These days the gifts may not be dollars, they may be gently used items or something we can’t use ourselves. The folks at Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City are doing just that, they are donating the pork bones used to make noodle broth to dogs in local shelters.
While the spirit of the gift is admirable, the gift may not be exactly right. From a veterinarian’s perspective, cooked or raw, these bones are dangerous, and potentially deadly. The veterinarians at AMC are frequently called on to remove bones stuck in the esophagus of dogs.
In 2007, the veterinarians at at The AMC published a review of 60 dogs with foreign objects lodged in the esophagus in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. All 60 dogs were seen at AMC and 46 of them had bones lodged in their esophagus. The other 14 had various toys, food objects and plastic lodged in their esophagus. Six of the dogs studied suffered from permanent esophageal damage and 3 additional dogs died from complications attributed to the esophageal obstruction.
Raw bones carry the additional animal and public health concerns. Any raw meat diet contains some risk of bacterial contamination with dangerous organisms. Salmonella, Cryptosporidium and E. coli found in raw meat may make the dog eating the food sick or may contaminate the kitchen of those preparing the raw bones for dogs and result in human illness. Dogs eating raw food diets are more likely to shed E. coli and Salmonella in their feces and contaminate the environment.
The AMC dentistry service recommends dog chew toys with tooth safety in mind. On the no-no list are hard nylon chew toys, furry tennis balls (the fur is very abrasive to the teeth), hoof chews and compressed rawhide. They say yes to hard rubber chew toys and non-furry balls like handballs.
So hats off to everyone stepping up to help shelter animals; just be sure your gift is a safe one.
For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.