Bones can be a great treat for your dog by relieving boredom, anxiety, and stress, and can help keep your dog's teeth clean, but they can also be harmful. Today, our Austin vets discuss what owners should know when it comes to letting their dogs eat bones.
Are Bones Good for Dogs?
Oftentimes, the answer is yes. 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.
Can My Dog Have a Bone?
A better question to ask is "Can dogs eat 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 generally yes.
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
- Severe constipation
- Intestinal blockage
- Perforation of the intestines
- Rectal trauma and bleeding
Bones That Are Unsafe 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 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.
Bones That Are Okay for Dogs to 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.
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.
Basic Tips for Bone Safety
If you are considering giving your dog a bone, here are some general safety rules to follow:
- Serve raw meat bones.
- Be an educated consumer
- 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.
- After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the bone from your dog and place it in the refrigerator.
- Give your dog the wrong type of bone.
- Don't give your dog cooked bones of any kind.
- Don't give your dog a bone if he has stomach problems.
- Allow your dog to chew any type of bone into small pieces.
- If another dog is visiting, don't give your dog a bone to chew on.