Dogs love to chew on bones, among various other things, but did you know that bones can sometimes be dangerous for dogs?
These days there is a lot of contradictory information everywhere about feeding bones to dogs, so it is important to be able to sort out what the concrete facts are, both about the benefits and the risks of it. It is true that giving your dog a bone can be dangerous, however, if you are informed enough and follow some simple rules about it, it can be a safe and good experience for your furry friend.
With all of that being said, you should always talk to your vet before giving your dog any new food, bones or chews to make sure that you are being as safe as you possibly can.
In this article we have compiled info that you will need to help you determine which bones will end up being good for your dog and which ones you should avoid.
Cooked bones should be avoided
It is common to give a family dog scraps from the dinner before, but those bones from that cooked chicken are not safe for dogs to eat as they can easily break and splinter.
Dogs that eat cooked bones regularly may suffer from:
- Broken teeth
- Windpipe, esophagus, or gastrointestinal blockage
- Bones looped around the lower jaw
- Mouth or tongue injuries
- Rectal bleeding
- Peritonitis, which is a bacterial infection of the abdomen that is caused by punctures in the stomach or intestines.
Are store-bought bone treats safe?
The FDA actually has warned that the commercially available bone treats, that are often processed and differ a bit from the bones that you may get from a butcher shop, may also present the same dangers and cause illness in the dog.
They even received 35 reports of dogs suffering from a variety of conditions related to those commercially available dog bone treats in 2015 alone. The bone treats in question were from Smokey Knuckle Bones, Ham Bones, and Pork Femur Bones
The reason behind this is that the companies producing these treats often dry them through either smoking or baking and add a ton of preservatives, seasonings, or smoke flavor.
Here is what some of the dogs in the reports suffered from:
- Gastrointestinal blockage
- Cuts in the mouth or on tonsils
- Rectal bleeding
- Death was reported in eight of the 35 dogs in question.
So, if you are considering buying any commercially available chews or bone treats for your pup, it’s always for the best that you talk to your vet about it first, to make sure that you are picking the correct products for your pet.
Do rawhides cause any problems?
Some rawhide chews have caused the same problems and conditions as the store – bought bone treats we mentioned. Since the manufacturing process of these bones can leave them with traces of toxic chemicals, and they have the potential for contamination with E. coli and salmonella as well, it doesn’t make them the best chew.
They can also cause digestion problems, as well as blockages.
Since artificial dog chews can contain gelatin, some artificial sweeteners, and other preservatives and additives that may be toxic and cancer causing, so it is best to avoid chews with these ingredients
What kind of bones should you give your dog?
The best type of bones for you dog are raw bones that have not been cooked, including raw turkey, lamb, beef or chicken bones. They are all soft enough to eat, chew on, and most importantly digest.
However, raw bones do not come without their own risks, one of them being the risk of choking. If your dog gets too excited and swallows without thoroughly chewing first, they can choke and bones that are too hard can cause damage to their teeth.
If you follow the safety guidelines we have listed below, these bones should be completely fine, but to make sure, always consult with your vet first!
Keep in mind that recreational bones are not made to be edible, rather than eaten they should simply be chewed. Chewing only bones are usually hip bones or femur bones from either bison or beef and are filled with marrow. They could also still have some meat, cartilage or soft tissue attached. Your local butcher should have a supply of them.
The bones that are filled with marrow have a high fat content, so make sure to adjust your dog’s diet to compensate for that. However, if your dog is on a low-fat diet, it may be for the best to steer clear of giving bones filled with marrow to it.
There are still risks when you give your dog any kind of bones, but if you follow the safety guidelines, your dog should be able to enjoy chewing bones safely.
What are the safety guidelines?
If you want your dog to be safely eating bones just follow these simple rules:
- Only let them chew under supervision. Of course, we don’t mean to be on them all the time, but keep an eye out once in a while when you give them a bone to gnaw on so that they don’t bite off too much too aggressively and choke or cause injury.
- Throw out the already chewed on bones. If you have already given your dog a bone and it is subsequently chewed down to the brittle part, then you have to worry about it splintering. Spare yourself the trouble and the choking hazard and just throw it away.
- Do not give bones to a dog that has had restorative dental work done as it poses a big risk for dental problems and tooth breakage.
- Do not give bones full with marrow to dogs that get pancreatitis since marrow is high in fat and can cause a flare up or diarrhea.
- Do not give bones to dogs that are likely to get too excited and bite it in half and swallow a large chunk. This is self – explanatory, but it presents a choking risk.
- Give the dog bones after a meal, since a less hungry dog is a lot less likely to chew and swallow a bone too quickly.
- Feed the dog bones that are longer than the length of their muzzle so that it makes them impossible to swallow.
- Do not feed them bones that can be swallowed whole. This fully depends on the size of your dog, so if you have a Great Dane for example, you shouldn’t give him chicken bones.
- Do not feed your dog a bone that is cut length wise, as it is much more likely to splinter.
- Likewise, do not feed them pork or rib bones, as they are more likely to splinter.
- Let your dog chew for 15 minutes at a time, which reduces the chance of injuries occurring.
- Lastly, refrigerate the bones when they are not being used, and throw them out after four days, as it reduces the chance of contamination.
What are the health benefits of bones?
Dogs need to chew as it is both a natural and an important behavior. Bones are technically considered a natural brush for the dog’s teeth. They can break the tartar down and reduce the chance of gum disease while also cleaning the teeth.
This behavior also stimulates the production of saliva enzymes which prevents plaque build – up, while also making the dog less likely to scratch or lick their paws.
Bones, especially raw, are a great source of calcium, phosphorus and other important minerals. They are beneficial for the digestive system, which includes strengthening the stomach muscles, fostering healthy bowel movements, preventing bloat and preventing anal gland problems.
Additionally. to physical health, chewing has the ability of mentally stimulating dogs, and this can reduce anxiety which is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Should you give your dog a bone?
Do the benefits in this situation outweigh the risks? Many veterinarians would actually disagree on this issue. However, the choice is still your own as the owner of your dog.
It is suggested by some to grind the bones to a powder and add it to their regular food, as it can provide the minerals from bones, but without the risk of choking and other problems. This, however, wouldn’t give the dog the benefits of chewing.
If you are going over the positives and negatives, aside from doing your own research, you should also consult with a veterinarian on this subject. Better be safe than sorry.
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