This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com
It’s a classic image: a dog contentedly gnawing on a bone. According to the Food and Drug Administration, it’s a scene that can turn fatal fast.
The FDA recently released a warning to dog owners telling them to avoid bone treats, after receiving 68 reports, affecting 90 dogs, of pet illness related to bone treats, including 15 deaths, reports Syracuse.com.
The FDA defines a “bone treat” as “real bones that have been processed, sometimes flavored, and packaged for dogs.” These are unlike butcher bones, which are uncooked and have no added flavor.
These potentially dangerous bone treats are available at pet retailers across the country and are usually labelled as “Ham Bones,” ‘Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones,” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones,” and often dried through baking and flavored with smoke, preservatives and seasonings.
In the reports the FDA has received about bone treats, dogs have died or become ill after consuming the treats because the products have caused gastrointestinal obstructions, blocked airways, internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea.
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To prevent emergency vet visits and pet deaths, the FDA is advising dog owners to avoid bone treats. In addition, the FDA suggests keeping an eye on all chicken and turkey bones during the holiday season. These brittle bones break easily and cause health hazards for your dog, as well. Make sure your pup can’t reach platters, counters and trash cans that might contain bones.
If you are concerned about what treats and toys are safe for your pet, consult your vet for advice on which products fit your dog’s size and temperament. Even when giving your dog a new, vet-approved product, it is always wise to monitor how your pup interacts with a new toy or treat to ensure there aren’t any issues.