Dog Bone Safety: Can Dogs Eat Bones?

We all know that dogs love to chew on things, and so we try to offer our furry friends various toys and objects for chewing, but what about bones? Are they actually safe? Today, our Rochester vets answer the question of 'Can dogs eat bones?' and offer some advice for what bones are safe for your pup.

Are Bones Good For Dogs?

You may be wondering a question that many others have also wondered, can you give a dog a bone? The answer for the most part is yes! Bones are a great way to provide your dog with valuable minerals while also providing them with mental stimulation. Not only that, chewing stimulates saliva enzymes, which aids in the prevention of plaque buildup and gum disease helping to keep your pup's mouth healthy. An added benefit of providing bones for your dog to chew on is that it may deter them from undesirable behaviors such as excessive scratching or licking. Even so, there are certain times when bones can be dangerous for your dog and our vets would like to share some important information about this to help keep your pup safe.

The Pros of Giving Bones to Dogs

We have always known that dogs seem to quite enjoy chewing on bones when they get the opportunity. Some of the reasons why it can be good to give your dog a bone include:

Oral & Dental Health: Chewing on bones can help to improve your dog's overall dental health. Gnawing on bones can help remove plaque and tartar buildup, preventing gum disease and promoting healthier teeth. The abrasive action of chewing on bones can act as a natural toothbrush for your dog.

Alleviate Boredom: If your dog is prone to boredom then chewing on a bone can help to provide them with a great deal of mental stimulation. It can be a natural and instinctive activity that keeps them occupied and entertained. Bones can be a great way to alleviate anxiety or redirect destructive chewing behaviors.

Additional Nutrition: If you want an easy way to get more minerals into your dog then look no further than bones. They contain marrow, which is rich in fat and can provide dogs with additional calories. Bones also contain calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals that contribute to overall nutrition.

The Risks of Giving Bones to Dogs

It is crucial that you are aware of when giving bones to your dog is not ideal including:

Potential Injuries: Certain oral injuries can occur while your dog is chewing on a bone. Dogs may crack or fracture their teeth, leading to pain, infection, and the need for dental procedures. Hard bones like weight-bearing bones from large animals are particularly risky.

Choking Hazard: If you are wondering 'Can you give a dog cooked bones?' this is a section you will want to pay close attention to. Bones, especially cooked bones, can splinter and break into sharp fragments, posing a choking hazard. These shards can also cause intestinal obstructions if swallowed, leading to a life-threatening emergency. Small dogs, aggressive chewers, or dogs prone to gulping are at higher risk.

Digestive Issues: Bones can cause digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or pancreatitis in some dogs. Fatty bones like marrow bones can lead to gastrointestinal upset, and sharp bone fragments can damage the digestive tract. Dogs with sensitive stomachs or a history of digestive issues should be monitored closely.

What bones can dogs eat?

So what bones can you give your dog then? Here are some of the bones that are typically safe for your furry friend:

Uncooked / Raw Bones: If you pick up any bones for your dog be sure that they have not been previously cooked. Raw bones are less likely to splinter and cause injuries. Always supervise your dog while they chew on any type of bone.

Synthetic Dental Chews:  Synthetic chew toys and bones can help provide your dog with stimulation without the dangers related to natural bones. These products are designed to be durable, non-toxic, and less likely to cause dental or digestive issues. Look for options like rubber chew toys, nylon bones, or specially designed dental chews.

Vet-Approved Treats: Consult with your veterinarian to find appropriate treats that promote dental health and are safe for your dog's specific needs. Dental chews or treats specially formulated to support oral hygiene can be a safer alternative to bones.

How Do I Make The Right Decision For My Dog?

When it comes to giving bones to dogs, the safety aspect is a crucial consideration. While bones can provide benefits such as dental health, mental stimulation, and nutritional value, they also come with risks. Dental injuries, choking hazards, and digestive issues are potential concerns that must not be overlooked.

As a responsible pet owner, it's essential to weigh the potential benefits against the risks and make an informed decision. Ultimately, consulting with your veterinarian is crucial in determining whether giving bones to your dog is safe and appropriate for their individual circumstances. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Our experienced Rochester veterinarians can provide all the advice and veterinary services you need to keep your dog healthy and happy. Contact Ridgemont Animal Hospital today to book an examination for your four-legged family member.