Should You Feed Bones to Your Dog? – Advantages, Risks and Alternatives
Not every bone is good for your dog. Cooked bones are out of the question but raw bones are a highly debatable topic too. Some veterinary professionals will tell you that some raw bones are safe while others wouldn’t recommend. Raw bones are soft and chewy but that doesn’t mean they are good for your dog despite the digestibility.
What are the Risks of Feeding Bones to Your Dog?
Here are a couple of risk and side effects associated with feeding raw bones to dogs:
If your dog ingests the whole bone, he may choke.
2. Bleeding Gums
Bones have hard and edgy surfaces. When your buddy bites into them, they may hurt his gums and lead to bleeding.
3. Teeth Fractures
Sometimes bones are so hard that the minute your dog bites on them, it fractures his teeth and causes a fracture.
4. Other Complications
When the bone passes through your dog’s throat, it could get lodged in the oesophagus, stomach lining, colon, or intestines. Surgery is needed to remove these fragments and sometimes it causes irritation and various health complications like constipation and even death when left unattended
Advantages of Giving Fresh Meaty Bones to Dogs
If you can’t avoid giving bones to your dog, go for the fresh meaty ones. Here are a few advantages to eating them:
- They help your dog chew mindfully and give them mental stimulation.
- His dental health will improve since chewing on bones leads to stronger teeth and cleansing of gums.
- Filled bones for dogs are also known to eliminate accumulated plaque.
- He also gets a nice dental workout with all that pulling, stretching, gnawing, and tearing.
- You also don’t have to worry about your dog getting hurt or experiencing teeth fractures since meaty bones are both soft and hard.
- It optimizes his appetite so no more overeating or taking in too many calories.
- Finally, fresh but meaty bones deliver a host of beneficial nutrients like calcium phosphate which help build his skeletal system.
What Should You Keep in Mind while Giving Bones to Your Dog?
Here are a couple of rules to follow when you think of giving bones to your dog:
- Give your dog raw bones which are a little on the meaty side. Don’t give cooked bones because these soften and splinter when chewed on.
- Get the right size. What we mean by that is, give your dog a bone that’s smaller than or roughly equal to the size of his head. Avoid narrow bones since the pieces can fragment and get into the throat. Go for the thick ones.
- Don’t give them bones. Wait a minute. We’re not kidding. Don’t give your dog raw bones if he/she already has gastrointestinal problems. Because giving bones to your dog having these issues will affect nutrient absorption and make his digestion worse.
What Kind of Bones Are Safe for Dogs?
If you’re asking “Are chicken bones safe for dogs?” or “Should I give large bones to my dog?”, we’re here to spill the beans.
There are different kinds of bones which are safe for your dog and here are a few of them.
1. Pork Bones
Pork bones aren’t safe for your dog, be it raw or cooked. Ask a veterinary expert and you’ll get the same answer.
2. Turkey Bones
Turkey bones are known to splinter a lot. We recommend avoiding them.
3. Lamb Bones
Lamb bones are close to beef bones in terms of density, so are a great choice.
4. Chicken Bones
Chicken bones are compatible nutritionally and are easy on his teeth and is one of their favourites.
5. Beef Bones
Go for large and raw ones. Cooked beef bones are okay as long as they’re large. Generally speaking, if you’re asking – “Are cooked bones safe for dogs?”, in most cases, the answer is no. Because cooking kills the nutrients.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats a Bad Bone?
If your dog ends up eating a bad bone, here’s what you should be doing:
- Take him to the vet if he’s ingested it already and is in pain.
- Take away the bone immediately if he still hasn’t eaten it.
- If he’s already eaten it and nothing seems wrong, watch carefully for a few days and notice red-flag signs like abdominal bloating, diarrhoea, bloody stools, and a lack of appetite.
- Feed your dog some white bread slices or chunks if he’s already ingested it.
- Monitor your dog’s stool and see if the fragments have passed or are still in his stomach/intestinal lining.
- Take him to the vet for a checkup after 3-4 days just to be sure.
Are There Any Safe Alternatives to Bones for Dogs?
Is your dog munching on bones too much and you want to give him a reason to try something else? Let him try these and he’ll enjoy munching away-
1. Frozen Carrot Sticks
Frozen carrot sticks give your dog a true challenge when it comes to chewing. Plus. they’re low in calories and high on nutrients.
2. Bone Supplements
Bone supplements are soft, chewy, and don’t choke your dog when chewed on. These contain a host of vital nutrients and minerals which are essential to their health.
3. Dried Fish Skin
Dried fish skin is pet-chewable which your dog will absolutely love. It’s a safe alternative to bones and taste a bit jerky. These are also high in Omega-3s and supply your canine friend sufficient lean protein.
4. Himalayan Chews
If you’re strapped for options, try asking your local pet store for a bag of Himalayan Chews. These are crafted from yak and cow’s milk and infused with lime and salt for taste. Also, even if your dog bites and breaks them, they won’t harm their GI tract (but that still doesn’t mean you should let them swallow it in).
Here are some frequently asked questions about feeding your dog bones and what to do to make sure he chews safe.
1. How to Keep Your Dog Away from Bones?
If you want to take the bone out of the equation completely, here are some steps to follow:
- Keep them out of reach
Do not discard bones any place where your dog can easily access it. It is ideal to keep your trash out of your dog’s reach.
- Give alternatives
Give your dog chew sticks that come with dental cleansing benefits to keep him away from bones. Treats work fine too.
- Take it away
If your dog has managed to get his paws on a bone, you can distract him by waving a more interesting treat so that he loosens his grip on the bone. You can then take it away and discard it.
2. How to Avoid Your Dog Choking on Bones?
If you notice any small pieces, take them away immediately. The chewing time should be no longer than an hour.
3. How Much Bones Should You Feed Your Dog?
It’s not about quantity but quality. Just make sure your dog gets the bone marrow part and the soft tissues. When he is done, take the bone away. In terms of intake, 27% of raw bones should form half of their diet to balance out the calcium and phosphorus levels.
Feeding your dogs bones may be one of the healthiest things you can do for him – but only if you do it right. Hopefully, these tips will help you to optimize his diet, make him grow stronger, and be his very best self. After all, isn’t that what every pet owner would want?