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Are Dog Bones Safe For Dogs To Eat?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Feeding bones to dogs can be both safe and hazardous
  • Consult a veterinarian and do thorough research before feeding your dog bones
  • Choose bones appropriate for your dog's size and supervise them while they eat
  • Avoid giving cooked bones, bones from the table, and bones with unhealthy ingredients
  • Bones can help clean a dog's teeth, provide essential nutrients, and improve mental health, but bone treats in pet shops and traditional rawhides are not safe for dogs
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Monday 29 August 2022
Last updated on
Monday 31 July 2023
Are Dog Bones Safe For Dogs To Eat?
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There are a lot of conflicting opinions about whether feeding bones to dogs is safe or not. Some say it’s perfectly natural and healthy for dogs to eat bones, while others claim it can be dangerous and even deadly. So, what’s the truth? Can dogs eat bones, or is it too risky? 

Let’s unfold the truth in this article as we discuss everything you need to know about dog bones such as safety, benefits, and disadvantages. 

Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Bones?

Revised

Giving bones to your dog has both benefits and risks. While bones can provide nutrition, they can also pose dangers such as choking and digestive problems. Therefore, it’s important to consult your veterinarian and do thorough research before feeding your dog any bones.

According to an article by Port Royal Veterinary Hospital (n.d), bones can be a source of essential nutrients like calcium and phosphorus, which are important for maintaining healthy bones. Chewing on bones can also help clean a dog’s teeth and provide mental stimulation.

However, as mentioned by Llera and Downing (n.d), there are risks associated with feeding bones to dogs. For instance, chicken bones can splinter and cause choking or puncture the digestive tract. Bones can also get stuck in the throat or between teeth.

According to a report by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they received 68 reports of illnesses related to dog bones.

In conclusion, if you choose to give bones to your dog, it’s crucial to closely supervise them to prevent incidents like choking or swallowing

Dos and Don’ts of Feeding A Bone to Your Dog 

Bones can be a great way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and their gums healthy, but knowing which practices are safe for dogs to eat and which can pose a health hazard is critical. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when feeding bones to your dog:

Dos

  • Pick bones that are appropriate for your dog’s size. Smaller dogs can choke on large bones, so choose one that is a good fit. Moreover, don’t give large dogs small bones they can accidentally swallow. Large bones are great for large dogs.
  • Supervise your dog when they are eating a bone. This practice will help you guarantee that your pet is not chewing on it too aggressively and at risk of choking or swallowing large pieces.
  • When buying dental health chews, always check if it has the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal. The seal means the product is clinically proven to help your dog’s oral health. 
  • Read the labels and instructions of store-bought dog bones or treats before giving them to your pet. 
  • Only give dog bones once or twice a week. Too much bone can lead to health problems.
  • Establish an appropriate dog bone feeding/chewing time. It is advisable to give dog bones after their meal. This practice decreases the chances of bone swallowing incidents. 
  • Only allow your dog to chew on bones for 10 to 15 minutes. Longer chewing time might cause some accidents. 
  • Consult your veterinarian before deciding whether you’ll give a dog bone. Vet-recommended dog chews are safer and very appropriate for your dog.

Don’ts 

  • Don’t give your dog cooked bones. Cooking can make bones more brittle and prone to splintering, which can be dangerous for your dog. Raw bones are better for dogs.
  • Don’t give your dog bones from the table. These can be high in fat and salt, which can be unhealthy for your dog. Stick to bones that are for canine consumption.
  • Don’t carelessly throw bones in your trash cans. Sometimes, dogs tend to dig and play with the garbage, so they might encounter some bones to chew or eat. 
  • Don’t give dog bones to dogs with a history of dental problems. These dogs have a higher risk of acquiring broken teeth or other dental issues. 
  • Don’t give dog bones that contain unhealthy ingredients. These ingredients include artificial sweeteners, gelatin, and other potentially harmful or cancer-causing ingredients and preservatives. 

Health Benefits of Bones 

There are many health benefits that bones can provide for dogs. One of the main benefits of bones for dogs is that they can help clean their teeth. As your dog chews on a bone, the bone will scrape away any plaque or tartar that has built up on their teeth. This can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.

This is parallel to the study by Logan (2006), in which it was stated that chewing, in general, is associated with improving your dog’s oral health. 

Additionally, bones are a good source of essential nutrients for dogs, including calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A. These nutrients are necessary for your dog’s bones, teeth, and overall health. Feeding your dog’s bones can help ensure they receive the nutrients they need for a healthy life.

Lastly, giving bones to your dogs can also help their mental health. According to an article by Devereaux (2020), the repetitive action of chewing helps the dog’s mind to release serotonin and dopamine – which both contribute to a happier state of mind. 

In this research by Rooney et al., (2009), chewing bones is even recommended to help working dogs release their stress. 

Are Bone Treats in Pet Shops Safe?

The pet industry offers many products marketed as healthy and beneficial for our pets. One such product is bone treats, which are commonly found in pet stores. But are these treats safe for our pets?

The FDA has issued a warning about bone treats for dogs. Bone treats sold in pet shops are often made from leftover chicken, beef, and pork. They may also be flavored with other foods like bacon, salt, and sugar.

As mentioned earlier, the FDA received a total of 68 reports linked to store-bought dog treats. Unfortunately, 15 out of those 68 reports resulted in death. Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian, warns, “Giving your dog a bone treat could result in an unexpected trip to the veterinarian, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

Furthermore, she advises everyone to supervise their pets while they chew on bones or other unfamiliar toys. Lastly, if you notice any unusual behavior, it is important to promptly seek veterinary care at the nearest clinic

Are Rawhides Safe? 

Despite being one of the most popular dog treats available in the market, rawhides are not considered safe for dogs. Moreover, because of the concerns related to rawhides, it is considered more life-threatening than other dog treats.  

Due to its threats, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) even encourages pet owners to limit the usage of rawhides. In addition, Petco decided to remove traditional rawhide products from their shop. 

Here are the following reasons why rawhides are not safe for dogs: 

  • Higher risk of choking. Dog chews made of traditional rawhide are solid and compact. Smaller parts may be stuck in their esophagus and block their breathing. 
  • Unsafe ingredients. Potent chemicals are frequently used in the production of traditional rawhide chews. This information indicates that your dog may be consuming powerful substances that could harm them. Additionally, there’s a chance of bacterial contamination because rawhide chews are made of animal skin.
  • Indigestion and Blockage. Because dogs can’t properly digest bits of rawhide and rawhide dog bones might hold bacterial or chemical contaminants, your dog could develop gastrointestinal problems like vomiting or diarrhea. Also, your dog can suffer stomach or intestines problems if they ingest a piece of rawhide bone that is too large – which may be fatal if ignored. 

Instead of rawhides, dog owners would be better off shopping at a pet store for natural alternatives like sweet potato chews, Himilayan chews, or bully sticks. Even a toy filled with peanut butter will be safer.

For the bottom line, the answers to whether can dogs eat bones or are bones bad for dogs are not always constant since dog bones can be both beneficial and hazardous for your dog. But, the most important things are: you should be aware of the dos and don’ts to minimize the chances of dog bone-related accidents, and always consult your veterinarian first. 

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