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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I've got a bone to pick..



I’ve got a bone to pick…In memory of Maxi

Recently I was wondering what my next subject would be and so I asked a trainer/evaluator that I work with for suggestions and she said she would like to see something on Cognitive Dysfunction in senior dogs. I will touch on that soon enough, but in the mean time something else came to the forefront for me. A friend’s dog recently had some messy accidents inside the home and when asked what she thought caused this, she mentioned that a family member had given the dog a bone and that the dog always had problems after eating one.

So what is the benefit when it comes to giving a dog a bone? And do the benefits outweigh the risks? Many people will reconcile to the fact that wild dogs have been eating bones to survive for years without problems, or, that they have been giving their own dogs bones for years and nothing has ever happened, so for those of you with that view in mind, please read on. Here’s a little story and once read, it will be a bone for you to ‘chew on’ in deciding what you want to your dog to eat.

Back in the late 80’s early 90’s I had a wonderful dog named Maxi. Maxi was about the fifth in the line of dogs that I owned over the years. She was a Chow /Lab mix and she had made the move from New York to Pennsylvania with me some 16 years ago. Once in PA, one of our new neighbors was raving about how much her dogs liked butcher bones. So we thought it would be a nice treat and found in a local flea market, a butcher who sold these bones. They were gigantic, like non I had ever seen before and true enough my dogs loved them, and true enough they got a little diarrhea for a day or two after eating one. A small price to pay I thought, for something they enjoyed so much. After all a little Pepto Bismol or canned pumpkin would help with the diarrhea.

My dogs had been eating theses bones about once a month for almost a year and one day I found Maxi, who was seven years old and in great shape at the time, standing at the front door seemingly wanting to come in. When I opened the door she walked through very gingerly and did not seem to recognize her surroundings as she stood in the middle of the room. Once I saw her face I knew something was terribly wrong. I yelled for Peter who came running at the terrified shriek in my voice. Maxi just stood there, staring into space, not looking at me, not recognizing her name, and not recognizing our voice as we softly spoke to her. We rushed her to the vet at once. Her eyes were blank and her gums pale as the Vet examined her then walked her to the back room where we were to leave her for the night. An IV for fluids was attached to her leg and she lay sadly inside the crate. At this point there were no answers for her illness. The next day after work I called to see how her night had gone and the Vet said she seemed to be doing better with the fluids attached and that she took a little interest in food so maybe the worst was over.

“Can we visit her?” I asked.
“Yeah sure!” he said. “That would be a good idea, maybe she’ll pick up a little more with a visit.”
That night when Peter came home we loaded up Shasta, our Belgian Sheepdog, as Shasta was Maxi’s best pal, almost like her momma, and we all headed to the vet office.

Maxie was lying in the crate and she wagged her tail when she saw us. We sat on the floor, opened the crate and let her out so she and Shasta could see each other and so that we could comfort her while being in this strange environment with all of the needles and tubes sticking in her body. This was the most responsive she had been since we brought her in and we were glad to see her that way. We made it a point to visit again the next day as well and it seemed she was doing better, enough so that possibly we could soon bring her home.
On the third day I was really looking forward to making a quick morning visit with her before work and bringing her home with me by the afternoon. I fixed up her bed and laid her favorite toys nearby as well as a bowl of water so she would not have to move around too much. I anxiously awaited the arrival of eight a.m. which was when the vet’s office would open. The very second the minute hand struck 8 a.m. I promptly dialed the phone.

“Hello?” The receptionist said.
“Hi, this is Sally.” I said a little excited. “I was hoping to visit with Maxi before work and really hoping I could take her home today?”
“Hold on Sally, I’ll get the Doctor.” She said.
Less then a minute later I heard, “Hi Sally?”
“Yes doctor.” I said. “I’m calling about Maxi.”
“I was just about to call you.” He said, his voice quite grim and not as enthusiastic as I had hoped.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as my heart started to rise up my chest to the bottom of my throat.
“Sally, he said, I’m very sorry. When we came in this morning Maxi had pulled out her IV. I’m afraid she did not make it through the night.”

Oh, God! I thought. This can’t be happening! And with that, my heart now raw with agony and grief, made its way up my chest to the top of my throat until it burned, my ducts overflowed their boundaries sending tears streaming down my face, and I found myself silent, without a voice.

“Sally?” The vet asked after a few seconds. “I’m really sorry; do you want us to handle things on this end?”
And in a barely audible noise that I thought would never come out I heard myself say, “Yeah.” And when I hung up the phone I realized that this was the end of my day as I knew it.

Maxi’s death hit me so hard because she represented life to me. She was purchased after a long drawn out illness of my Aunt had ended for the better. It was Christmas Eve and my recent depression over my Aunt for those many weeks left the Peter’s stocking barren. When I received a phone call that my Aunt had pulled through and things were looking up, I grabbed Jason who was about six at the time and we went looking for last minute stocking stuffer's to put in Peter’s stocking. We came home with only one, Maxi.

Her death hit me so that I could not even receive phone calls from well meaning friends who just wanted to ease my pain. Friends who had known and come to love Maxi as much as I had. Friends who still remember Maxi to this day as being among one of their most favorite dogs I owned.

A necropsy was performed and it was found that there was a puncture to Maxi’s intestinal tract and I am 100 percent sure that the only sharp item Maxi had access to that could have caused such a puncture, was a piece of bone. The very bone that I had given her to enjoy.

So, to the statements that I hear over and over again from people who send me their questions daily and who profess… “That their dogs have been eating bones for years and they have never had any problems.”
My response would be, “Please consider yourself very lucky and stop that practice before something does happen.”

To those who argue that, “Dogs in the wild eat bones all the time to live.”My response would be, “How do you know how long a dog in the wild lives or what eventually kills it?”
I am not going to debate third parties that feed raw diets as that is their choice to do so and the debate has gone on long enough. A choice, your choice, is the only one your dog can live by.

I am going to direct you to sites regarding the dangers of bones as not only can they puncture the intestines causing poison to go through the body, but they can also cause an obstruction of the bowel which is a costly operation to fix.



As far as the argument about bones cleaning a dogs teeth, well, for cleaner teeth and to prevent dental disease, brush your dog’s teeth daily (using only dog toothpaste). For the chewing needs of a puppy buy indestructible toys such as a Kong and fill it with cream cheese or peanut butter, then freeze it, as that can help gums that are feeling sore.

Dangers of bones
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/the-dangers-of-bones/page1.aspx

Obstruction
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/gastrointestinal-foreign-body-in-dogs/page1.aspx

Greenies WARNING, graphic pictures
http://improvehomelife.com/greenies.html

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