Dogs and bones: it seems like a natural pairing. That’s why so many comic strips and movies feature dogs gnawing on juicy bones. But in reality, some bones present health and safety hazards for your dog.
Chewing is a natural dog behavior, and there are safe dog chews and bones available. In fact, bones can provide mental stimulation and keep teeth clean. But before you hand over any old bone, read on to learn about which bones safe for dogs.
No cooked bones ever
Most people know that cooked chicken bones are bad for dogs. In fact, cooked bones of any kind can be dangerous because they break and splinter into small, sharp pieces. Shards of bone can cause a number of health problems, including:
- Mouth, tongue, or tooth injuries
- Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Severe constipation
- An intestinal blockage that may require surgery
The safest bet is to never give your dog a bone from the family dinner. Even cooked beef bones pose a health hazard. If you want to make use of meat and bones leftover from your meal, consider boiling them up and straining them into a tasty bone broth instead.
Choosing a raw bone for your dog
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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
Raw bones from cows and bison are generally safe when used appropriately. It’s best to know where bones come from, so you should purchase raw bones from a butcher with locally sourced meat. Store them in the freezer and thaw them one at a time to give to your dog.
When choosing a raw bone for your dog, look for one that’s about the size of their 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 knuckles make great chews!
Safe commercial chews
Many pet parents choose commercially-sold chews for their convenience and safety. Greenie dental chews, which are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, are satisfying and 100% digestible chews that satisfy your dog’s urge to chew while also cleaning their teeth.
Another option is a non-edible chew toy. For example, the Nylabone Dura Chew is a tough, durable nylon bone infused with flavor. It satisfies dogs’ urge to chew, cleans their teeth, and is virtually indestructible. No dangerous small parts here!
Whether you give your dog a raw bone, a bone-shaped treat, or a non-digestible chew toy, you should always supervise their chewing.
How to give your dog a bone safely
When it comes to commercially available bones and chews, look for something that’s labeled as easily digestible. Or, for non-edible chew toys, pick something bigger than your dog’s mouth without small or easily breakable parts.
Any bone can cause a choking hazard when chewed into small pieces. So, you should always supervise your dog while they’re chewing, and take away their bone once it’s worn down to a size smaller than their mouth.
Finally, it’s best to give your dog a bone or chew when they’ve already eaten. Hungry dogs are more likely to swallow pieces of bone or chew too hard and potentially injure their mouths. A satiated dog will enjoy the mental stimulation of chewing and get a good teeth cleaning at the same time.
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