Are Dog Bones Safe?
Are dog bones safe for dogs? I decided to write a post about this because there are some unfortunate things that have happened with dog bones and owners losing their precious animals due to intestinal trauma. First, I’d like to say, accidents can and do happen. Even the most experienced dog owner may, at one point, experience losing their dog to an unfortunate freak accident. Sometimes, there are certain things that are just unavoidable. We can only do the best we can for our canine companions, and be as proactive as possible, to help avoid these things – but there is always a chance something can go wrong.
I’ve spoken with highly experienced breeders and owners of large breed dogs as to the safety of bones, and have also done my own due diligence in research, and found that there are some bones more riskier than others. There is still controversy over whether “overall” dog bones are safe; some feel you should never give your dog bones, others embrace bones as a healthy way of helping their dogs clean their teeth, strengthen their neck and jaws, stimulate their minds, and provide additional nutrients to their dog’s diet.
The general consensus is that the “riskiest” bones are often anything that is cooked. These types of bones can splinter and break off into shards that can get lodged into their throats, cut or penetrate the intestinal tract resulting in severe trauma and possible death. These types of risky dog bones also include the commercially available “smoked” bones which can possibly even break teeth. Let’s face it, in “nature” all carnivorous animals eat “raw”, they don’t cook their food before eating it. Sometimes, if we look to nature for our answers, it’s pretty clear…
Cooked chicken bones is probably the most dangerous. These bones are extremely sharp and can cause a lot of damage when swallowed. They are small, and are often swallowed in pieces or in whole, making them a choking hazard as well as an intestinal hazard. I would also highly discourage pork bones, as they also have a bad rep for splintering, especially when cooked. Many veterinarians say that you should choose a raw bone around the size of your dog’s head, or bigger, so that would mean larger animal bones such as beef or elk would be good choice. It is still highly suggested to always monitor your dog while they are chewing. This might sound a bit silly considering “why would they sell bones for dogs if they were that dangerous?” but the truth is, it’s about profits, and not what’s safest or best for anyone – whether human or animal.
Veterinarians also recommend other things for dogs to chew on, and eliminate the need for bones all together. There are many hard chew toys on the market that are safe and effective, possibly not as enticing or enjoyable, but an option nonetheless. Kong goodie bones seems to be a favorite alternative, and the AKC even recommends bully sticks as an excellent chew alternative. We actually prefer bull strips, as they are flat, and easy for them to chew without as much as a choking risk.
Another thing to be sure of when selecting bones for your dogs, is to make sure that they are NOT SAW CUT. If you cannot obtain uncut bone, be sure to never give your dog bones that have been cut on an angle, and try to cut them as close to the knuckle as possible. Nice even flat chopped bones, no sharp edges or long “stumps”. When we give bones to our dogs, we always choose large beef knuckle bones, and they are often frozen from the local grocery store. If you give your dog a raw bone, realize that there can be bacteria that can introduce unwanted pathogens into your home. Be sure to always clean any area where your dog has been chewing on a raw bone in your home with a disinfectant, or better yet, only allow them to chew raw bones outdoors.
This article is not addressing the edible raw bones associated with a raw food diet, but rather “recreational bones” for chewing only, or bones not meant to be eaten and swallowed. Here is another article from one of my favorite sites, dogsnaturally.com, that discusses the difference as well as the positives and negatives of both…
Unfortunately, it is a risk to give your dogs bones, that is honestly the bottom line. However, you can eliminate most all risk by properly monitoring your dog while he/she has her bone, stay away from cooked bones (baked, boiled, smoked, etc), and choosing the proper size and cut of bone. I would also suggest only giving bones ones in awhile, like maybe once a month, and the rest of the time offer other types of chews such as bully sticks, dental bones, or appropriate hard chew toys.
If you have suggestions or a perspective you would like to share, please feel free to submit your comments below! Thanks for stopping by!