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Can dogs eat bones?

Posted Dec 30th, 2022

Bones can be great and fun for dogs. Chewing can relieve boredom, can be a coping mechanism for anxiety and stress, and helps keep your dog's teeth clean. However, bones can be also harmful to your dog's health and safety. Today, our Ocala vets discuss bone safety and what bones a dog can eat.

Are bones good for dogs?

In short, yes, they can be. Bones provide minerals and other nutrients while also satisfying your dog's appetite. Chewing stimulates saliva enzymes, which aids in the prevention of plaque buildup and gum disease. And a dog chewing on a dog bone is less likely to scratch or lick his paws excessively.

So can I give a dog a bone?

A better question might be "should dogs chew bones?"

In general, raw bones tend to be better for dogs than cooked bones. So if you ever wondered "are cooked bones bad for dogs?" the answer is yes, but again, in general.

That's because raw and cooked bones can both cause splinters in your dog's mouth and digestive tract, resulting in injury and even death (although this is more common with cooked bones). Here are some of the consequences of a dog chewing on raw or cooked bones.

  • Lacerations or punctures to the gums and tongue
  • Cuts and wounds to the throat
  • Damaged or broken teeth
  • Choking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe constipation
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Perforation of the intestines
  • Rectal trauma and bleeding

What bones are not safe for dogs?

Cooked Chicken and Turkey Bones: These bones are more prone to splintering. Small bones are also more prone to getting lodged in the throat and esophagus than larger, more solid bones.

T-Bones: T-bones, due to their shape, can become stuck in a dog's throat while the other end is down the esophagus or trachea. This can lead to severe swelling that can block the airway, preventing your dog from breathing.

Small Bones and Circular Bones: Giving any bone that is smaller than your dog's mouth or easily splinters is risky. Both can result in choking hazards as well as trauma to the mouth and intestinal tract. Circular bones are also unfavorable because they can become lodged in the lower jaw of a dog. Dogs are terrified of this, and cutting the bone to free the dog's jaw usually necessitates sedation.

What bones are safe for dogs?

Generally, you want to get raw bones from a reputable butcher large enough to be easily grasped and about the size of your dog's head. It should also have bulges or lumps on both ends.

Raw bones are considered a "safe" bone option, but there are still risks. Your dog can still break a tooth, cut his or her gums, or get a bone splinter. Excessive chewing on the bone can cause constipation. The bone should be refrigerated before use and discarded after a few hours.

General Rules for Bone Safety

If you are considering giving your dog a bone, here are some general safety rules to follow:

Do:
  • Serve raw meat bones.
  • After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the bone from your dog and place it in the refrigerator.
  • After three or four days, discard the bone.
  • Give large bones to large breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, Bloodhounds, and Mastiffs.
  • When you give your dog a bone, keep an eye on him.
  • Be an educated consumer
Do Not:
  • Give your dog the wrong type of bone.
  • Don't give your dog cooked bones of any kind.
  • Allow your dog to chew any type of bone into small pieces.
  • Don't give your dog a bone if he has stomach problems.
  • If another dog is visiting, don't give your dog a bone to chew on.

Do you have more questions about giving your dog a bone? Contact our Ocala vets today and we'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

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