Cartoons often show dogs gnawing on bones, burying them inside pits, and bragging about them to other dogs. But in real life, it is quite a rare sight. So, can dogs eat bones?

Yes, even though that is technically not eating. Dogs can chew on bones. There are plenty of advantages to it as well. 

If you were wondering the same, we have briefed you on the various aspects of feeding bones to dogs that might concern you as a pet owner.

Are Bones Safe For Dogs?

The dogs in cartoon shows looked funny with all of their bone shenanigans. They would fight tooth and nail to save their beloved bones from other enemy dogs. But you have to wonder why the cartoonists chose bones in the first place. Why are dog treats or toy manufacturers so obsessed with bones?

While bones make for a great crunchy snack, they serve other purposes too, such as:

1. Source of nutrients

In the real world, we know how nutritionally valuable bones are for our dogs. They are a source of minerals and other nutrients such as calcium and potassium and help keep your dog whole.

Raw bones with meat provide nutrients such as protein and other minerals.

2. Great for dental health

Dogs that get to chew on bones in moderation are less likely to scratch or lick their paws excessively. It also strengthens your dog’s jaw muscles. 

Chewing stimulates saliva enzymes and helps prevent plaque buildup and gum infections. 

3. Mental stimulation

Chewing on bones keeps your dog engaged and helps eliminate boredom. These can be especially helpful if you are too busy to participate in your pup’s playtime (although we always recommend spending ample time with your dog for a better bond).  

4. Improves gut health

Chewing on bones also improves their digestive health. It stimulates the creation of digestive enzymes and encourages the natural movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract.

However, bones come with their own sets of risks for your dog as well. Not every kind of bone can be fed to dogs, and you need to be aware of the ones which are safe.

What Kind of Bones Can And Cannot be Fed to Dogs?

Although bones seem like a great snack, not all kinds of bones are recommended for dogs. You can choose other sources of proteins and nutrients from other safer foods that minimize the risks and health issues for dogs. You cannot play with your fur baby’s life and health as a paw-rent.

Remember that not all bones are okay. The white bones in cartoons may not be the best choice at all.

Here’s a breakdown of the types of bones considered safe for dogs and those that should be avoided:

Safe Bones For Dogs: 

While animal bones are fed to dogs and come in various sizes, some types of bones are considered to be safer than other. Safer options to feed your dog include:

1. Raw meaty bones

These uncooked bones still contain some meat and connective tissues attached to them. These are safe for dogs because they are softer and less likely to splinter. However, you should consult your veterinarian to learn ways to feed raw bones to dogs (article).

Some of the best examples of raw meaty bones are chicken, turkey, oxtail, ham, beef and lamb bones.

2. Edible bones

Some edible bones are specifically designed for dogs and are safe to eat—for example, dehydrated bones, natural dental chews, etc.

3. Large or heavier bones

Some large, heavier bones from large animals (like beef or bison femurs) can be suitable for large, powerful dogs. Please make sure they are free of sharp edges and do not easily break. 

Bones to Avoid Feeding Dogs

Dog owners should understand the kinds of bones that can harm their dogs. While cooked, seasoned or processed bones seem tasty, they may do more harm than good to your dog. Here are a few more types of bones to avoid:

1. Cooked bones

Your KFC chicken bucket may seem like the best snack for your dog. But no! (and they should NEVER consume fried chicken anyway). Cooked bones, especially poultry ones, are dangerous as they can become brittle and easily splinter.

These splinters can cause choking, blockages, or internal injuries. 

2. Processed bones

Avoid giving dogs processed bones. They can be treated with harmful chemicals and unsafe additives. Even if the meat has been removed, the bones are pretty brittle, posing severe risks to your pup.

Additionally, these bones might contain seasonings and spices that can harm your pup’s digestion.

3. Small bones and bones with sharp edges

Small bones, such as those from chicken wings or ribs, can be swallowed whole and pose a choking hazard. Sharp bone edges or points can injure a dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive tract. Fish bones are too small and sharp, and pork bones can be pretty brittle, with severe risks to dogs.

Bones of small birds, such as chicken or turkey, are very lightweight. They are very brittle and can splinter way too easily.

4. Bones with marrow

While some dogs love the marrow inside bones, it is fatty and can lead to gastrointestinal upset or even pancreatitis, especially in dogs prone to such issues.

5. Bone meal

In order to feed their dogs organic meals, most dog owners use bone meals or blood meals, that can be poisonous to their health. Made of dried, ground and flash-frozen blood, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and severe pancreatitis (article).

Furthermore, these bone meals can contain sharp shards that severely injure your pup’s stomach and throat.

6. Bones from wild game

Even if you occasionally take fur buddies on hunting trips, bones from hunted wild animals can carry parasites and pathogens unsafe for your fur baby’s consumption.

If you wish to feed them that anyway, do not forget to boil them, as heat can kill most harmful bacteria.

7. Hard bones

Antlers or bones too hard for consumption can break your dog’s teeth. This may also cause gum infections and other oral injuries.

When considering giving bones to your fur baby, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian first. They can advise based on your dog’s health, size, age, and chewing habits if you need clarification about the safety of a particular type of bone. 

Be cautious and choose safer alternatives, such as commercial chew toys or dental treats specifically for dogs. 

a dog sniffing a bone in the yard

Health Risks of Feeding Bones to Dogs

With all these available options and benefits, you might wonder whether dogs are completely safe to eat bones. Besides the benefits, chewing bones poses numerous dangers to a dog’s health. Some can even be fatal. Let us dive deep into them:

1. Gastrointestinal blockage 

Some dogs can be quick eaters. They are prone to swallowing larger bone pieces, causing gastrointestinal blockage. This can be painful and might require surgical intervention. 

2. Your pooch’s cute teefies might be in danger!

If the bones are too hard, they can injure the inner parts of your dog’s mouth. Hard bones can fracture or break teeth, leading to pain, infections, etc. This would be an excruciatingly painful experience for any dog.

3. Pancreatitis

Fatty bones or bone marrow can heighten the risk of pancreatitis, a painful and potentially severe inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreas requires surgical intervention in most cases.

4. Bacterial contamination

If raw bones are not stored properly before being fed, they can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli (article). 

And you should also keep your pup from carrying their bones around for a short time. The bones will start collecting bacteria and germs from being dragged around through dirt-ridden spaces.  

5. Allergic reactions

Some dogs can develop allergic reactions to certain types of bones. Allergic reactions are unpredictable, so it is better to consult a veterinarian for proper guidance.

What Alternatives Can You Go For Then?

Your canine companion descends from wolves! He still has a strong hunting instinct. There are several safe and healthy bone alternatives that you can feed your pup to satisfy their chewing requirements and promote dental health.

These are specifically designed for dogs. They are durable for long-time chewing as well, and include:

1. Commercial dental chews

Many commercially available dental chews are made specifically for dogs. These products are digestible and can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

2. Rubber chew toys

Rubber toys designed for chewing can be filled with treats or peanut butter to engage your dog and provide mental stimulation.

3. Nylon chew toys

Durable nylon toys are designed to satisfy your pup’s need to gnaw without the risk of splintering like bones.

4. Rope toys

Rope Toys can be suitable for light chewers and offer interactive play opportunities. These toys can be rotated, and you can play a tug-of-war game with your fur buddy. This will also help build jaw strength if they are still relatively young.

5. Stuffed toys and soft toys

Some stuffed toys are designed to be tough and durable, providing a chewing and play option. Soft toys can provide comfort and entertainment for dogs that enjoy carrying toys or cuddling.

But make sure those do not have any small parts they can swallow. It can be a serious hazard to their health, and they can also choke on them.

6. Frozen treats

Freeze treats or dog-safe fruits and vegetables in ice cubes for a cooling, crunchy treat that provides oral stimulation. You should ensure first that your pooch is not suffering from any cold-related diseases or if they are prone to catching cold. If so, it is better to avoid frozen treats for now. 

Chew toys are beneficial for obedience training. If your floor is a biter, you can teach them not to bite by letting them bite onto inanimate objects such as these.

Additionally, artificial chew toys should not be ingested anyway! Look for ones that are big enough so that your pooch cannot swallow them always. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing new chew toys or treats to your canine companion. They can guide you on what ingredients to look out for when buying dog treats.

Your beloved fur baby is very unique! So, it is likely that your puppy will have a different dietary requirement than other dogs. Allergies, taste and sensory preferences vary from dog to dog.   

How to Safely Buy, Store, And Dispose Bones?

To minimize risks associated with chewing bones, pet owners must take appropriate steps to prepare them for their pups. Here’s a few to get you started:

1. Get fresh bones

Fresh and locally sourced bones are the best choice to reduce the risks of sanitary problems. Avoid processed bone treats; choose whole, raw bones.

2. Select the right bone size

Selecting bones relative to your dog’s size is always recommended. Avoid small bones for large breeds and chunky bones for small breeds

3. Supervise meal time

Supervise your dog when they chew on bones and remove the bone promptly if it becomes too small or breaks. Your puppy dog can even choke on the bone pieces if you ignore them.

4. Prepare with care

If you decide to prepare raw bones at home, handle them with clean hands and avoid cross-contamination at all times. Store bare bones in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent bacterial growth and ensure they are not left out for too long (article).

5. Interactive chew toys

Look for interactive chew toys. Our fur babies need mental stimulation as much as they need physical stimulation. Now, they cannot sit down with you over coffee and gossip about how the neighbor’s cat, Bella, stole all the cat treats. Can they?

6. Clean chew toys

Always clean and dry the chew toys. They might collect bacteria, saliva, and dirt if not appropriately monitored. This might cause various diseases. Regularly inspect them. Keep them organized and easily accessible to your fur companion.

So, you need to find alternatives for your dogs to build a connection with them. Remember, not only do you need to keep the natural bones safe, but you also need to be cautious while storing the manufactured ones.

Final Thoughts

You need to be a responsible dog paw-rent. And you need some excellent paw-renting skills to take care of your pup. Do not just give your dog a bone that you find in a convenience store based on your friend’s recommendations or being inspired by cartoon characters.

Dogs are unique, and their chewing preferences vary widely. Supervising your dog with any new chew or toy is vital to ensure they are using it safely and not ingesting any pieces. Always choose products suitable for your dog’s size, age, and chewing habits.

Consult your veterinarian if you need more clarification about the best options for your pet doggo. Additionally, keep playing with them to keep them engaged.

Note: Do not just give your doggo a bone and let them carry it around for days. This will only lead to food-borne diseases due to bacterial growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dogs digest cooked bones?

No, cooked bones should be avoided at all costs. They can be brittle and splinter easily. Leading to internal injuries. Cooked bones from human foods are even worse. Even removing the meat from the bones may still contain seasonings, spices or salts. These are very dangerous for your pup’s stomach.

Are deer antlers safe for dogs?

Yes, in fact, deer or elk antlers are rugged, long-lasting chew option for your dog. These can keep their teeth clean and entertain them for a while. Although, you should be careful of what size you pick for your dog. 

 What bones should dogs avoid?

There is no one type of bone that you should or should not avoid. Everything that you provide your dog to chew or eat depends on their physical requirements, sensory preferences, and taste preferences. But if we were to pick a few, we recommend that you steer away from processed bones, cooked bones, fish and pork bones, bone powder, bones of hunted animals, etc. 

How long should I let my dog chew on a bone? 

 It is necessary to keep your dog engaged. But checking on them occasionally and playing with them is essential. Or else your pooch might get bored and become aggressive. This can lead to injuries and behavioral issues. Also, letting them drag their bones will likely to the collection of disgusting bacteria. Thus giving rise to food-borne diseases. Keep their chews and bones clean, organized, and free of germs and any accumulated saliva.

Are pork bones safe?

Pork bones are particularly brittle. So, they can cause stomach issues and injuries if they break while chewing. Your pups might want to swallow small pieces of the pork bone, which could lead to choking, intestinal blockages, or damage to the esophagus or intestines. These can be hazardous. 

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