Safety Of Feeding Bones To Dogs


Many people believe that feeding bones to dogs is both natural and beneficial, often citing their role in maintaining dental hygiene and providing nutritional benefits. However, it's important to remember that "natural" doesn't always mean "safe" or "healthy." For instance, while wild mushrooms are natural, some varieties can be fatal to dogs. To make an informed decision about whether to feed bones to your dog and which types might be suitable, let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of this practice.

Top Reasons Why Bones Can Be Harmful To Dogs

Here are the main reasons that bones are not good for dogs (according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration):

Broken teeth: Bones are extremely hard, and a dog can easily break one of its large chewing teeth. A broken tooth is painful and requires treatment, which can be costly, whether the tooth is extracted or saved with a root canal.

Mouth and tongue injuries: The sharp edges of broken bones can act like razors. Dogs can break off sharp bone shards that can pierce the tongue, cheek, or mouth's soft palate.

Jaw entrapment: Round bones can become stuck around the lower jaw, behind the canine teeth. This can be a frightening experience for the dog, often requiring sedation or anesthesia to remove the bone.

Choking hazards: Bone fragments can lodge in the esophagus on the way to the stomach. Sharp pieces can penetrate the soft tissues at the pierce the esophagus or back of the throat. Additionally, bones can enter the trachea, obstructing the dog's ability to breathe, which is an emergency.

Stomach and intestinal injuries: Sharp bone fragments can damage the stomach and intestinal walls, potentially leading to peritonitis, an abdominal infection that can be fatal even with aggressive treatment.

Stomach blockages: Large bone fragments may not pass out of the stomach, causing chronic vomiting and irritation. These fragments often require surgical removal.

Intestinal blockages: Bone fragments can cause small intestine or colon blockages, leading to emergencies requiring surgery. If bone fragments reach the colon, they may cause painful constipation, scraping the lining and causing trauma. Enemas and manual evacuation may be necessary.

Pathogen contamination: Raw bones can be contaminated with E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. These pathogens may not always make dogs sick but pose significant health risks to humans, especially children, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals, potentially leading to life-threatening infections.

What Safe Options Can I Give My Dog To Chew?

There are many excellent chewing products available for dogs. If you offer rawhide, opt for ones made from U.S. cattle hides. Select the thickest hides available and ensure they are too large for your dog to swallow. Avoid rawhides with knots on the ends, as these can be pulled off and swallowed, potentially requiring surgical removal by a veterinarian.

Additionally, various dental health chews are on the market. Look for products with the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval. This seal indicates that the product has been tested and proven to support your dog's oral health.


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