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Dog Bone Safety: Can Dogs Eat Bones?

Dogs love chewing on anything they can sink their teeth into. From socks to rocks and anything in between, dogs will chew on almost any object. One thing that dog owners are unsure about is if dogs are allowed to chew on bones. Chewing on bones seems like a natural activity but many pet owners are afraid to give their dog a bone. In this post, our Rabun County vets delve into the great debate and explore whether giving bones to dogs is safe.

Are Bones Good For Dogs?

There is no denying that bones can provide your pup with several essential minerals and other nutrients while also satisfying your dog's appetite. Chewing also stimulates saliva enzymes, which aid in the prevention of plaque buildup and gum disease, helping keep your pup's mouth healthy. An added benefit of providing bones for your dog to chew on is that it may deter them from undesirable behaviors such as excessive scratching or licking. Nonetheless, many veterinarians warn that allowing your dog to chew on bones comes with some serious risks for your dog's health.

So, what bones can dogs eat safely? Are cooked bones good for dogs? Are cooked bones bad for dogs? Can you give a dog a bone? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of giving bones to dogs to answer these questions and any more you may have.

The Benefits of Giving Bones to Dogs

Chewing bones is something that dogs have enjoyed for centuries. There are certainly some benefits to this, including:

Mental Stimulation - Chewing on bones is a way for dogs to get mental stimulation. It is a great way to relieve boredom for dogs. It can be a natural and instinctive activity that keeps them occupied and entertained. Bones can be a great way to alleviate anxiety or redirect destructive chewing behaviors.

Dental Health - Vets recommend giving dogs bones to promote dental health. Gnawing on bones can help remove plaque and tartar buildup, preventing gum disease and promoting healthier teeth. The abrasive action of chewing on bones can act as a natural toothbrush for your dog.

Nutritional Value - Raw bones are a great source of essential nutrients. They contain marrow that is rich in fat and provides dogs with additional calories. Bones also contain calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals that contribute to nutrition.

The Risks of Giving Bones to Dogs

If you are planning to give your dog natural bones it's important to understand the potential health risks involved. Here are a few points to consider:

Dental Injuries - There is a risk of dental injuries associated with chewing on bones. Dogs may crack or fracture their teeth, leading to pain, infection, and the need for dental procedures. Hard bones like weight-bearing bones from large animals are risky.

Digestive Issues - Bones can cause digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or pancreatitis in some dogs. Fatty bones like marrow bones can lead to gastrointestinal upset, and sharp bone fragments can damage the digestive tract. Dogs with sensitive stomachs or a history of digestive issues should be monitored closely.

Choking & Obstruction - Bones, especially cooked bones, can splinter and break into sharp fragments, posing a choking hazard. These shards can also cause intestinal obstructions if swallowed, leading to a life-threatening emergency. Small dogs, aggressive chewers, or dogs prone to gulping are at higher risk.

Chewing Alternatives For Dogs

After learning about the risks involved in allowing your dog to chew on bones, you may be looking for safer options to consider. 

Vet-Approved Treats - Consult with your veterinarian to find appropriate treats that promote dental health and are safe for your dog's specific needs. Dental chews or treats specially formulated to support oral hygiene can be a safer alternative to bones.

Raw Bones - If you give your dog bones, consider raw bones instead of cooked options. Raw bones are less likely to splinter and cause injuries. Always supervise your dog while they chew on any type of bone.

Synthetic Chews - There are plenty of safe synthetic chew toys available in the market. These products are designed to be durable, non-toxic, and less likely to cause dental or digestive issues. Look for options like rubber chew toys, nylon bones, or specially designed dental chews.

Making The Right Decision For My Dog

When providing bones to dogs, ensuring safety is of utmost importance. Although bones offer advantages like promoting dental health, providing mental stimulation, and offering nutritional benefits, they also pose risks. It's vital not to overlook potential concerns such as dental injuries, choking hazards, and digestive issues.

As a responsible pet owner, it's essential to weigh the potential benefits against the risks and make an informed decision. Ultimately, consulting with your veterinarian is crucial in determining whether giving bones to your dog is safe and appropriate for their circumstances. 

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.

If you have any questions about your pet's diet or what you should and shouldn't be feeding them, contact our Rabun County vets today.  

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Rabun Animal Hospital is currently accepting new patients! Our wonderful veterinarians are dedicated to the health and happiness of Rabun County dogs, cats, and exotic pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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