Is bone marrow good for dogs?
Bone marrow contains many nutrients but it is fatty and can lead to digestive upset. If your dog has had digestive issues in the past (especially pancreatitis), tread carefully or talk with your veterinarian first about alternative chews.
Fractured Teeth from Chewing on Bones
We can testify to the fractured teeth: our Irie, a devoted marrow bone chewer, had to have three teeth extracted due to fractured teeth.
The next year, Tiki lost two teeth due to the same reason.
Today our dogs only get marrow bones as a very occasional special treat; for everyday chewing, our dogs have Icelandic+ horns (which are keratin–similar to a fingernail–not bone).
If you are going to give your dog large marrow bones, give the bones as a fresh treat but then, once your dog has chewed out the marrow and the bone begins to dry, discard the bone.
As it dries, the bone becomes more harder and more brittle, more likely both to break a tooth or to splinter into dangerous pieces.
For some dogs, the rich fat of the marrow can also cause intestinal upset. It is also high in calories.
If your dog is new to marrow bones, you may also see blood on his gums (and on the marrow bone) after chewing. Like a person new to dental flossing, chewing bones may cause bleeding at first.
If a bone splinters while your dog is chewing it and your dog swallows the piece, there is a risk of intestinal obstruction. This can necessitate surgery.
Tummy troubles have rarely been the case in our house, but we have seen another down side of bones: resource guarding.
When Irie and Tiki each get a marrow bone, we see them go to opposite sides of the yard (we only give the bones outdoors except during thunderstorm/firework periods when we give them in the house but with an old sheet over the bed and couch).
If you have multiple dogs and they already engage in resource guarding (Irie and Tiki happily share any other time), keep a close eye on them when they have this high value treat.
Never Feed Your Dog Cooked Bones
Bones are generally available two ways, raw or cooked. Cooked bones are extremely hard and should never be offered to dogs for a number of reasons—unless you love taking your dog to the vet! Among these reasons include:
Feeding Bone Marrow to your Dog – Is it Safe
One veterinarian office has shared a warning over the dangers of bone marrow and dogs by posting a picture of a marrow bone stuck over a dog’s lower jaw, with the caption, “Watch out for marrow bones. Here’s another unlucky dog.”
It actually is a pretty serious problem – one that vets are seeing more, and more of these days.
North York firefighters in Canada were called out to a similar emergency after a woman showed up at the station seeking help for her dog Ginger. The 10-month-old Shepherd mix had gotten a similar bone stuck to her lower jaw. The woman had first gone to her vet who told her to go to the emergency veterinary hospital – however, she decided to stop at the fire station for some added assistance.
Ginger wasn’t in any danger as far as she was still breathing normally and all, but the fire crew decided to still go with the owner to take Ginger to the Willowdale Animal Hospital, where they offered their assistance to the vet in removing the bone. They used a Dremel tool to help cut the sides of the bone in order to free her jaw.
The vet who treated Ginger, Dr. Jonathan Bloom, revealed that it wasn’t uncommon for dog owners to bring their dogs into his clinic with similar issues: having marrow bones stuck on their jaws.
He told City News, “You see it quite frequently. They’ll come in with these marrow bones wrapped around their lips and lower jaw.”
Dr. Bloom said the problem is that the marrow bone becomes stuck on the dogs’ canine teeth – the “fangs” – and after the lips start to swell, that ends up trapping the bone around their jaw.
In order to get the bones loose, the vets need to put the dogs under anesthesia in order to hopefully manage to wriggle them off. If that technique doesn’t work, then they have to resort to sawing them off. Dr. Bloom did reveal that this was the first time that his team had been assisted by firefighters with their Dremel saw.
Dr. Bloom, along with other vets, cautioned pet owners to be wary about feeding bone marrows to their dogs. Not only can the bones break teeth, but they can also split and cause serious digestive problems to them as well.