Bones can be an enriching treat for your dog. Chewing can relieve boredom, anxiety and stress, and helps keep your dog's teeth clean. However, bones can be also harmful to dogs. Today, our Stuart vets explain.
Are bones good for dogs?
Yes is the most common response. Bones provide minerals and other nutrients while satisfying your dog's appetite. Chewing stimulates salivary enzyme production, which helps to prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. Furthermore, a dog chewing on a dog bone is less likely to lick or scratch his paws excessively.
So can you give a dog a bone?
A better question to ask is "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.
This is because splinters from raw or cooked bones can injure or even kill your dog if they get into their mouth or digestive tract (though cooked bones are more likely to do so). The effects of a dog chewing on raw or cooked bones are as follows.
- Lacerations or punctures to the gums and tongue
- Cuts and wounds to the throat
- Damaged or broken teeth
- 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 most likely to splinter. 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 your dog any bone that is too small for their mouth or is prone to splintering is dangerous. Both pose a risk of choking and cause damage to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Circular bones are also unfavorable because a dog's lower jaw may become entrapped by them. Dogs are terrified of this, so sedation is frequently required when cutting the bone to release the dog's jaw.
What bones can dogs eat?
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.
While raw bones are considered a "safe" bone option, there are still risks. Your dog could still have a broken tooth, cut gums, or 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:
- 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
- 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.