For generations of pet owners feeding bones to their dogs has seemed as natural and healthy as letting them run free across fields and meadows.
But vets are now warning people not to give their dog a bone, because it could kill them.
The PDSA veterinary charity has issued the warning after its vets and nurses reported seeing dozens of dogs suffering from damage to their digestive tracts and blockages caused by bone splinters or larger pieces.
The advice appears to run counter to many dog owners’ assumption that their pets benefit from chewing on raw or cooked bones as a way of absorbing calcium and other nutrients and cleaning their teeth.
But Rebecca Ashman, a senior vet with the PDSA, Britain’s leading veterinary charity, said: “We don’t recommend bones as treats because unfortunately our vets and nurses regularly see dogs with digestive tract damage and blockages caused by splinters or larger pieces of bone being swallowed and becoming stuck.”
She added: “Surgery is usually needed to remove any blockage and in some cases, the damage is so serious that it can be fatal. Similarly, if they swallow a large piece of rawhide chew this can become stuck and cause serious problems.”
Several pet food firms in the UK market raw bones as being “the perfect addition to a raw or natural diet, adding texture and variety as well as a host of nutritional benefits to a complete and balanced meal” for both cats and dogs.
Read more: telegraph.co.uk