What are the benefits of giving your dog a bone to chew on?
Feeding bones to your dog has substantial health hazards, and it’s understandable why most experts would recommend not giving bones to dogs as chew treats. But the other side of the argument claims that feeding bones can provide nutritional benefits that can help keep your dog healthy, or even help manage certain conditions.
Any nutrients a dog gets from chewing on bones don’t actually come from the bone itself, but from the tissues attached to it. Ligaments and tendons attached at the ends of long bones or surfaces of flat ones can be a great source of collagen. Collagen helps maintain healthy bone, joints, and skin. Bones also have traces of meat and fat attached to them that can provide protein and energy for dogs.
Bones can be a good source of calcium and phosphorus when ingested, digested, and absorbed, but given the risk of intestinal obstructions, it has never been recommended. However, there are ways dog owners can utilize the potential nutritional benefits of dog chews and treats while mitigating the health risks associated with them.
Lastly, bones make a great chew toy for dogs. And anyone who has had a dog knows that they love to chew on things, and sometimes they chew on a particular object for hours on end. This can keep a dog occupied for a long time and can help in cases of anxiety or stress.
Are bones dangerous treats for dogs?
Despite what most cartoons portray, bones pose a serious health hazard to dogs. Their gastrointestinal (GI) system is not equipped to digest bones, and this can lead to numerous health problems.
A common problem associated with feeding bones to dogs is intestinal obstruction. Bones cannot be digested and broken down by a dog’s digestive system, and if they ingest a big enough piece, it can partially or completely obstruct the intestinal tract. GI obstruction is a serious health problem in dogs that requires intensive care and oftentimes surgical intervention to treat.
Dogs with GI obstruction often will have general signs of illness like vomiting in the initial stages of the problem. Depending on where the obstruction is, the progression of symptoms can take a few hours or a few days, which can make early detection difficult. If not detected and treated early, intestinal obstruction can be fatal to dogs.
Another health hazard commonly associated with giving bones to dogs is intestinal laceration and perforation. Pieces of bone shrapnel often have sharp and pointed edges that can cause wounds, lacerations, or worse, perforation along the intestinal wall and lead to serious complications.
Lastly, feeding bones to dogs can cause tooth fractures. The pressure dogs apply to chew on hard bones, especially the large ones, can potentially crack your dog’s teeth. Tooth fractures can increase the risk of periodontal disease and can possibly cause jaw fractures.
What to Avoid When Giving Your Dog a Bone
Don’t give your dog the wrong kind of bone. This includes poultry bones and pork bones. Rib bones, especially pork rib bones, are high in fat. Dogs aren’t built to handle this amount of saturated fat and can suffer from pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, often caused by too much fat in the diet; it can range from mild to severe, but it typically shows up as vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite. Severe cases can be deadly, so it’s important to seek veterinary attention right away.
Don’t give your dog cooked bones of any kind. Cooked bones splinter into shards that can cause choking and serious damage to the dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines. Cooking can also remove nutrients from the bone. If your dog does ingest cooked bones, give your veterinarian a call for advice or to schedule an appointment to rule out any serious outcomes. Be careful to keep platters containing bones out of reach when you’re cooking or putting food on the table. And don’t put bones in any trashcans that your dog might be able to get into.
Don’t let your dog chew any kind of bone into small pieces. These pieces create a major choking hazard. Bone fragments can easily get lodged in your dog’s throat, blocking the airways and creating an emergency situation. Also, these chunks are typically very sharp and can puncture and cut the inside of your dog’s mouth, tongue, stomach, and intestines. Bone fragments, especially rib bones, can also lodge in the descending colon near the rectum, causing constipation-like symptoms and pain. This will require a trip to the veterinarian or emergency clinic for expensive treatment and enemas.
Don’t give your dog chunks of bone that can cause blockages. The chance of the chunks getting stuck in the intestines is fairly high. This happens when a bone fragment is too large to pass through the gut and obstructs the flow of all other digested food through the gastrointestinal tract. Obstructions are very serious and can quickly lead to severe illness and death.
Don’t give your dog a bone if they have stomach problems. A bone and its marrow can cause diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome; they might make just plain sensitive stomachs even worse.
Don’t give your dog a bone if there’s another dog visiting. Even friendly dogs can be very protective of their bones.
What Bones Can you Give your Dog? | DOG BONES
Not all bones and chew toys are created equal — some are bad for canine teeth! Heres what you should know about spoiling dogs without spoiling their teeth.
Of course you love spoiling your pet! But before giving your dog a chew toy, take a closer look. Could it cause the chipping or fracturing of all-important canine teeth?
Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian who provides emergency after-hours care at Rivergate Pet Emergency Clinic in Nashville, says the toys and treats to avoid are those with a hard texture. “Avoid giving your dog metal, hard plastic, bones or other extremely firm objects, as these are most likely to result in a painful, broken tooth,” she says. “Oftentimes, dogs enjoy chewing so much that they will overdo it and can cause dental trauma to the mouth.”
The Worst Chew Toys and Treats for Dogs If you can’t break it in half, it’s too hard and not a good choice for your dog. With that in mind, here are 5 things to avoid:
Better Chew Choices The best chew treat and toys for your dog are large enough so as not to present a choking hazard. You’ll also want to look for those that don’t splinter and some that may even offer a dental health benefit. “Be sure to look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Approval on any dental treat that you purchase,” Dr. Evans advises. “VOHC certifies treats and toys that are proven to reduce plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth.”
Drs. Evans, Wooten and Fegan recommend the following to dog owners and dog sitters to keep canine teeth healthy:
What To Do if Your Dog Hurts a Tooth Be cautious examining your dog’s mouth. “The pain may cause your otherwise gentle pet to snap or even bite you,” Dr. Fegan warns. Help your pet feel better by applying a cold compress to the outer cheek near the injury, which can minimize swelling, bleeding and pain. Dr. Fegan also says it’s safe to give your pet aspirin. Seek vet instructions on proper dosage. If a tooth is loose or bleeding, get immediate attention.
“The best thing you can do is check your pet’s teeth periodically and have a full dental exam with your veterinarian annually in young pets and every six months if your pet is older,” Dr, Evans notes. “If you notice anything unusual, including blood, chipped or broken teeth, excessive wear, discolored teeth, or anything abnormal, be sure to have your pet’s mouth examined.”
Angela Tague writes about parenting, pet care and being a home-based writer. She and her husband live in Iowa with a bositerous Bull Terrier mix and a wacky Weimaraner.
* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.
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