Can Dogs Eat Bones? Which Bones Are Safe For Dogs?
‘Give a Dog a Bone’ proclaims the old saying, but is this something that we really should be doing? Well, the short answer is: it depends. You certainly don’t want to risk giving your dog a bone that is going to present a choking risk. Anything that they can bite into small pieces falls into this category. But as long as you give your dog a raw meat bone and you supervise them closely; they can provide a good source of nutrients and minerals. Also, the action of chewing is important for dogs as it helps to prevent plaque from building up on their teeth and gums, staving off future disease.
So, in this blog post, we are going to have a more in-depth look at the subject of safe bones for dogs.
Are Bones Good for Dogs?
There are many health benefits associated with giving your dog a bone. First of all, they are a good source of various positive things such as phosphorous and calcium. Also, they provide benefits to their digestive system including strengthening stomach muscles, preventing bloat, and helping healthy bowel movements. All dogs need to chew. Bones can act as a brush and floss, breaking down tartar, reducing gum disease, and cleaning teeth. As your dog chews, it stimulates the production of saliva enzymes, while reducing the buildup of plaque. As well as being physically beneficial, there are also mental benefits involved in chewing. On top of giving them something to do, the action has also been shown to reduce anxiety, which is linked to issues such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Are Bones Bad for Dogs?
It isn’t all good news when it comes to bones. There are some dogs that are better off avoiding bones entirely. If your pooch has stomach problems, irritable bowel syndrome, or they get diarrhea often, there are better treats out there to offer to them. Bone marrow is very rich and can make these issues worse. You should also be very wary of offering a bone to a dog who is an aggressive chewer. They are much more likely to break it off into pieces which they could inadvertently swallow. If you decide to not give your dog bones, you still need to offer your pooch something to chew on. It is important in strengthening their jaw muscles, as well as brushing and flossing.
What Type of Bones Can Dogs Eat?
The most common advice that you will see is that dogs can eat raw bones, but it is cooked bones that they need to be kept away from. This is because it is much more likely that they will break apart and splinter due to the fact that they are softer. As well as the obvious choking risk, a few other potential problems include broken teeth, mouth and tongue injuries, and constipation.
Raw bones present less of a risk, while still being a great source of vitamins and minerals. And, after all, dogs in the wild would have chewed on bones, and it would have just been part of their lifestyle. As our domesticated dogs have descended from these wild hounds, the nutritional requirements from bones still prove to be beneficial.
As for the size of the bones, you should go for those that are large and thick ahead of narrow and small. The larger the bone, the less likely it is that your dog will break it into pieces. But you still need to ensure that it is the right size for their mouth. Can dogs eat pork bones? The short answer is no, and rib bones should be avoided too, as should cut bones as these are more likely to splinter. Also, don’t feed your dog very small bones that can be swallowed whole as these can present a choking risk.
Types of Dog Bone
There are two main categories that you can use to classify dog bones: edible bones and recreational bones.
- Edible bones
Edible bones are hollow bones typically from birds. They can include chicken wings and turkey necks. They do not contain any marrow, but they are soft, pliable, and easily crushed. Forming part of a raw food diet, they contain trace minerals, calcium, and prosperous.
- Recreational bones
Next, you have the bigger beef bones for dogs such as femur or hip bones. Unlike the edible bones, they contain marrow, but they don’t offer any specific dietary nutrition. Also, they are designed to be chewed on rather than swallowed. The benefits of this variety of bones include mental stimulation and improvements in dental health.
Should I Give My Dog a Bone?
There is much disagreement amongst vets and dog experts whether or not to give your dog bones. As the dog owner, you have to be the one to make the final decision. If you don’t want to give your dog whole bones, you can still ensure that they get all the nutrients inside by grinding them up into powder and sprinkling this over the food. On the downside, your dog doesn’t get any of the health benefits involved in chewing. Of course, you can always make up for this by offering them specially designed chew toys. There are pros and cons on each side, but if you are feeling unsure, you should discuss the issue in more detail with your vet.
Keeping Your Dog Safe While Eating a Bone
If you do decide to give your dog a bone, the most important thing is that they are safe. Here are a few tips that will help to ensure this.
- Choose the right bone
One of the most important things that you can do is to choose the right size of bone. You don’t want to pick which is too large or too small. Avoid pork and rib bones as they are more likely to splinter. Also, don’t give your dog a bone that they can swallow whole.
- Supervise your dog
You should never leave your dog alone while they are chewing on a bone. Otherwise, they may bite off more than they can chew – quite literally. And this puts them at risk of choking, other internal issues, or illness. You should limit your dog to around 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Any longer and it is more likely to lead to injury.
- Throw out old bones
You shouldn’t keep giving your dog the same bone over and over again once it has been chewed out. If they reach the brittle part, it is more likely that the bone will splinter. The bone may also have reduced so much in size that it presents a choking hazard on its own. When a bone is not in use, you can store it in the refrigerator, but you should throw it out after three or four days.
- Give your dog a bone after a meal
After your dog has just eaten, they will be full and less likely to go overboard when chewing on the bone. After all, it is not supposed to be a whole meal in itself.
- Avoid giving bones in certain situations
We have already talked about how bones aren’t good for dogs who have sensitive stomachs, but you should also avoid offering them to dogs who have recently had restorative dental work. And if your dog is at risk of pancreatitis, you should also steer clear of bones as they are high in fat. If you live in a multi-dog household, you should separate your dogs before throwing any bones into the mix. Territorial behavior can often ensue, which can lead to disagreements and fights.
- Know when to get help
If your dog seems to be in discomfort or they are actually choking, you need to get in touch with your vet, and you may even need to take them into the emergency vet. In some situations, you can provide the Heimlich maneuver. There is detailed advice available online which is worth familiarizing yourself with.
Alternatives to Feeding Your Dog Bones
If your dog is unable to eat bones or you would prefer to avoid them for another reason, there are plenty of other alternatives out there. The most obvious choice is an edible dental bone which is fully digestible. These are specifically designed to mimic the feeling that dogs get when chewing on bones, as well as controlling the buildup of tartar and plaque. If you are looking for one of these bones, make sure to choose one that doesn’t contain anything too unhealthy like additives and preservatives.
The issue of whether or not to feed your dog bones comes down to you. There are arguments for and against doing it, so you should discuss these with your vet if you want more clarity. If you do decide to give your dog a bone, you need to ensure that it is the right size and type. And you should always supervise them closely to ensure their safety.
- Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding Pet Foods – The Ohio State University