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Can dogs eat bones?

Bones can be an enriching treat for your dog. Chewing can relieve boredom, anxiety and stress, and helps keep your dog's teeth clean. However, bones can be also harmful to dogs. Today, our Jackson vets explain.

      Are bones good for dogs?

      Most of the time, the answer is positive. Bones provide minerals and nutrients to dogs while also satisfying their appetite. Chewing increases salivary enzymes, which helps to prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. Furthermore, chewing on a dog's bone reduces his tendency to scratch or lick his paws excessively.

      So can you give a dog a bone?

      A better question to ask is "should dogs chew bones?"

      In general, raw bones tend to be better for dogs than cooked bones. So if you ever wondered "are cooked bones bad for dogs?" the answer is yes, but again, in general.

      This is because both raw and cooked bones can result in splinters in your dog's mouth and digestive tract. This can cause injury and even death (though it is more common with cooked bones than raw bones). Here are some of the consequences of your dog chewing on raw or cooked bones:

      • Lacerations or punctures to the gums and tongue
      • Cuts and wounds to the throat
      • Damaged or broken teeth
      • Choking
      • Vomiting
      • Diarrhea
      • Severe constipation
      • Intestinal blockage
      • Perforation of the intestines
      • Rectal trauma and bleeding

      What bones are not safe for dogs?

      Cooked Chicken and Turkey Bones: These bones are most likely to splinter. Small bones are also more prone to getting lodged in the throat and esophagus than larger, more solid bones.

      T-Bones: T-bones, due to their shape, can become stuck in a dog's throat while the other end is down the esophagus or trachea. This can lead to severe swelling that can block the airway, preventing your dog from breathing.

      Small Bones and Circular Bones: Giving a dog a bone smaller than your dog's mouth, or one that easily splinters, is risky. Both can result in choking and trauma to the mouth and intestinal tract. Circular bones are also not very good because they can become lodged in the lower jaw. Cutting the bone to free the dog's jaw usually requires sedation and surgery.

      What bones can dogs eat?

      Generally, you want to get raw bones from a reputable butcher large enough to be easily grasped and about the size of your dog's head. It should also have bulges or lumps on both ends.

      Raw bones are regarded as a 'safe' bone option, but there are still risks. Your dog may still break a tooth, cut their gums, or develop a splinter. Chewing on the bone too much can also cause constipation. The bone should be refrigerated before use and discarded after a few hours.

      General Rules for Bone Safety

      If you are considering giving your dog a bone, here are some general safety rules to follow:

      • Serve raw meat bones.
      • After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the bone from your dog and place it in the refrigerator.
      • After three or four days, discard the bone.
      • Give large bones to large breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, Bloodhounds, and Mastiffs.
      • When you give your dog a bone, keep an eye on him.
      • Be an educated consumer
      Do Not:
      • Give your dog the wrong type of bone.
      • Don't give your dog cooked bones of any kind.
      • Allow your dog to chew any type of bone into small pieces.
      • Don't give your dog a bone if he has stomach problems.
      • If another dog is visiting, don't give your dog a bone to chew on.

      Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

      Are you still wondering what kinds of bones are safe for your dog to chew? Contact our Jackson vets today and we'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

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