Are Bones Safe For Dogs?
Dogs are so often paired with bones that it might be hard to imagine that perhaps they aren’t meant for each other after all. In recent years, many veterinarians and even the FDA have cautioned against giving dogs bones because of the health risks they pose. So, are bones safe for dogs?
But just what is so dangerous about bones, does anyone disagree, and what are the alternatives? Let’s take a look.
Wait a Second… Don’t Wolves Eat Bones?
This is a common and understandable question. If dogs evolved from wolves and wolves consume bones, shouldn’t it be safe for your dog to do so as well?
The truth is that wolves usually don’t eat the large bones of their prey; they are often left behind with the animal’s hide, skull, and stomach contents.
Additionally, wild wolves have shorter lifespans on average than domesticated dogs due to disease, parasites, and injuries — which yes, can occur if a wolf swallows an unfriendly bone.
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Why Are Bones Dangerous?
“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration.
“Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”
The FDA goes on to list 10 reasons why it’s a bad idea to give your dog a bone:
Bones can break teeth
And fixing broken teeth can cost a pretty penny.
Bones can injure the mouth and tongue
These injuries can be very bloody and messy, as well as painful for your dog. They could also land you at the veterinarian’s office.
Bones can get stuck around your dog’s lower jaw
This usually occurs with round, hallow bones (like the end of a marrow bone). It can not only be a very frightening experience for a dog, it can also be painful and costly at the vet.
Bones can get trapped in the esophagus
Which is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This can cause your dog to gag and in most cases you will need to head to the vet’s office.
Bones can get trapped in the windpipe
This can happen if a dog inhales a small piece of bone. This is an emergency situation, as your dog will be having a hard time breathing. Go to the vet’s office or an emergency clinic right away.
Bones can get stuck in the stomach
If the bone was small enough to swallow but not large enough to move from the stomach to the intestines, your dog will most likely require surgery to remove it.
Bones can get trapped in the intestines
If this happens, it can cause a gastrointestinal blockage, and surgery may be required.
It can be difficult for a dog to squeeze out sharp, jagged bone fragments. This is a painful situation and requires a trip to the veterinarian.
Bleeding from the rectum
Those sharp, jagged fragments can cause injury to the rectum and severe bleeding. This can be very messy and you’ll need to see the veterinarian. Never attempt to pull out a bone fragment that is partially protruding from your dog’s rear end; this could cause further injury.
Bones can cause peritonitis
Peritonitis is a severe bacterial infection of the abdomen that can occur when bone fragments puncture your dog’s stomach or intestines. This infection can be deadly and requires emergency veterinary treatment.
Some veterinarians and raw food groups argue that while cooked bones are not safe for dogs, raw bones are because they are softer, less likely to splinter, and more easily digestible. Talk to you veterinarian to find out their opinion on the matter. The opinion on whether bones are safe dogs will vary based on their recommended diets.
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No one is saying to throw out chewing altogether. Indeed, the right kind of chewing can be good for your dog’s teeth and breath, soothe the painful gums of teething pups, and be an outlet for mental and physical energy.
What do you think? Should you give your dog bones? Leave a comment and let us know your opinion, and to keep your dog safe and healthy, consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at PetPlus.com.
For more information: No Bones About It: Bones Are Unsafe For Your Dog via the FDA