“Caution” is the magic word when it comes to giving bones to dogs. Bones contain minerals and other nutrients that can help meet a dog’s dietary needs. Chewing is also a natural canine behavior and it stimulates the production of salivary enzymes. Chewing bones also helps prevent the accumulation of plaque on teeth and periodontal disease. Dog bone treats provide hours of stimulation for dogs. It provides a diversion to excessive licking or scratching. It is extremely important, however, for pet owners to avoid giving the wrong kind of bone to their dogs.
Are dog bones dangerous?
When giving bones to dogs, many veterinarians recommend raw meat bones over cooked bones, poultry, and pork bones because these bones can splinter easily and cause choking and injury to any part of the dog’s digestive tract. Cooking bone also removes vital nutrients.
Are bone treats safe for dogs?
While giving bone treats to dogs remain to be a controversial topic, there have been research studies that showed certain types of bones are safer for dogs. These include raw bones, knuckle bones, and bones from the beef leg. These bones can be given raw, smoked, or dehydrated. Never give your dog cooked bones of any kind!
When is the best time to give a bone treat to your dog?
Experts recommend giving a bone to your dog just after a meal. This not only keeps your dog entertained, but also helps to keep their teeth clean! The bone should be larger than the length of the muzzle of the dog, making it impossible for the dog to swallow it whole. Beef shanks are better for large breed dogs that are aggressive chewers. Keep your pet under close supervision while he is chewing a bone. After 10-15 minutes of chewing, take the bone away and refrigerate it. A bone should be disposed off after three to four days.
Risks associated with dogs chewing on raw bones
Several potential problems can occur when dogs are given bones to chew. These include the following:
Raw bones may harbor harmful microorganisms that can cause illness. The risk is not limited only to raw bones; smoked or dehydrated bones that are available commercially may also carry pathogens.
Cooking softens bones and this can make their more prone to splintering. However, the problem can also occur with raw bones. When a small piece of bone is swallowed, there is a possibility it will get stuck in the throat and may cause choking and asphyxiation. The bone may also obstruct the passage of food and water in the digestive tract.
A bone that is swallowed can get lodged in any part of the gastrointestinal tract causing an obstruction that may need emergency surgery to remove.
Injuries to the mouth or any part of the gastrointestinal tract
When bones splinter, their sharp edges can cause trauma or injury to any part of the digestive system from the mouth to the anus.
Are there better alternatives to raw bones that can be given to dogs?
Since dogs need to chew and gnaw, there are vet-recommended dog chews available commercially. If you insist on giving bones to your pet, Dr. Karen Becker of Healthy Pets recommends knowing bones by separating them into 2 categories -- edible and recreational bones.
Edible bones are soft, doesn't contain marrow and can easily be crushed. Common examples are poultry wings and necks or ribs. These bones are rich sources of calcium and phosphorus for your dog.
Safe dog bones
A great alternative to these bones is bully sticks! They are termed as a "safe dog bone" despite not having any bones in them. These are usually derived from beef pizzle and not only are they yummy and long lasting, but they also have no bone inside! Check out Absolute Bites or Graze for these!
Best long-lasting dog chews
If you don’t want to give raw bones to your pet, here are some commercially available bone treats for your dog’s chewing pleasure:
Dog Bone Toys
There are also dog bones toys that are made of durable materials the won’t split or splinter like natural bones. These toy bones come in various flavors and unique designs and are a safer chewing alternative to raw bones. Among the most popular bone toys are Kong Goodie Bone for Dog Toy and Kong Quest - Bone Toy for Dogs.