Bones can be an enriching treat for your dog. Chewing can relieve boredom, anxiety and stress, and helps keep your dog's teeth clean. However, bones can be also harmful to dogs. Today, our Rock Hill vets explain.

Can dogs eat bones?

Yes is the most common response. Bones provide minerals and other nutrients while satisfying your dog's appetite. Chewing stimulates salivary enzyme production, which helps to prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. Furthermore, a dog chewing on a dog bone is less likely to lick or scratch his paws excessively.

So can you give a dog a bone?

A better question to ask is "should dogs chew bones?"

In general, raw bones tend to be better for dogs than cooked bones. So if you ever wondered "are cooked bones bad for dogs?" the answer is yes, but again, in general.

Because splinters in your dog's mouth and digestive tract can cause injury and even death (though cooked bones are more likely to cause this). The following are some of the consequences of a dog chewing on raw or cooked bones.

  • Lacerations or punctures to the gums and tongue
  • Cuts and wounds to the throat
  • Damaged or broken teeth
  • Choking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe constipation
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Perforation of the intestines
  • Rectal trauma and bleeding

What bones are not safe for dogs?

Cooked Chicken and Turkey Bones: These bones are most likely to splinter. Small bones are also more prone to getting lodged in the throat and esophagus than larger, more solid bones.

T-Bones: T-bones can get stuck in a dog's throat because of their shape when one end is down the esophagus or trachea. Due to the severe swelling that may result, your dog may be unable to breathe.

Small Bones and Circular Bones: Giving your dog any bone that is smaller than his mouth or easily splinters is dangerous. Both can cause choking hazards as well as mouth and intestinal trauma. Circular bones are also undesirable because they can become lodged in a dog's lower jaw. Dogs are terrified of this, and sedation is usually required when cutting the bone to free the dog's jaw.

What bones can dogs eat?

Generally, you want to get raw bones from a reputable butcher large enough to be easily grasped and about the size of your dog's head. It should also have bulges or lumps on both ends.

Raw bones are considered a "safe" bone option, but there are still risks. Your dog is still susceptible to tooth decay, gum irritation, and bone splinters. Over-chewing the bone can cause constipation. The bone should be discarded after a few hours of chilling before use.

General Rules for Bone Safety

Here are some general safety guidelines to follow if you decide to give your dog a bone:

  • Serve raw meat bones.
  • After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the bone from your dog and place it in the refrigerator.
  • After three or four days, discard the bone.
  • Give large bones to large breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, Bloodhounds, and Mastiffs.
  • When you give your dog a bone, keep an eye on him.
  • Be an educated consumer
Do Not:
  • Give your dog the wrong type of bone.
  • Don't give your dog cooked bones of any kind.
  • Allow your dog to chew any type of bone into small pieces.
  • Don't give your dog a bone if he has stomach problems.
  • If another dog is visiting, don't give your dog a bone to chew on.

Are you still wondering what kinds of bones are safe for your dog to chew? Contact our Rock Hill vets today and we'd be happy to answer any questions you have.