Dogs and bones: it seems like a natural pairing. That's why most people assume bones are safe for dogs. But in reality, some bones present health and safety hazards for your dog. Our Western Veterinary Hospital vets will explain.
Most people know that cooked chicken bones are bad for dogs. Cooked bones of any kind can be dangerous because they break and splinter into small, sharp pieces that can cut your dog’s mouth and digestive organs. Shards of bone can cause several health problems, including:
- Mouth and tongue lacerations
- Broken teeth
- Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Severe constipation
- An intestinal blockage that may require surgery
In general, raw bones are a lot safer than cooked bones. However, there are some raw bones you should never feed your dog. These include:
- Pork bones, which easily splinter and crack
- Rib bones of any kind, which are small and likely to crack or get stuck in your dog’s throat
- Any bone smaller than your dog’s mouth that they may swallow whole
When choosing a raw bone for your dog, look for one that’s about the size of its head. Why so big? Well, a big bone will let your dog chew while reducing the chance that they’ll break off and swallow a dangerous chunk. For extra-large dogs, raw beef and bison knuckle bones make great chews.
Some dog owners opt for bully sticks as an alternative to bones. Bully sticks are fully digestible and don’t break into hazardous pieces. They’re durable chews that will keep your pup busy, but they should only be used as treats. They’re not a replacement for balanced, nutritional dog food.
Whether you give your dog a raw bone, a bone-shaped treat, or a non-digestible chew toy, you should always supervise their chewing. Dogs will chew for hours if you let them, so make sure you remove the chew after 10-15 minutes
Any bone can cause a choking hazard when chewed into small pieces. So, you should always supervise your dog while they’re chewing a bone and take it away once it’s worn down to a size smaller than their mouth.