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 Statesboro vets explain.
Are bones good for dogs?
Most of the time, the answer is yes. Bones give dogs minerals and other nutrients, and also satisfy your dog's appetite. Chewing stimulates saliva enzymes, which helps prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. Further, a dog chewing on a dog bone is less likely to scratch or lick 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 raw and cooked bones can both cause splinters in your dog's mouth and digestive tract. This can result in injury and even death (although this is more common with cooked bones than raw 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
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 a dog a bone smaller than your dog's mouth, or one that easily splinters, is risky. Both can result in choking and trauma to the mouth and intestinal tract. Circular bones are also not very good because they can become lodged in the lower jaw. Cutting the bone to free the dog's jaw usually requires sedation and surgery.
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.
Raw bones are considered a 'safe' bone option, but there are still risks. Your dog can still break a tooth, cut their gums, or get a splinter. Chewing on the bone too much can cause constipation too. The bone should be refrigerated before use and thrown out 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.