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Are bones safe for dogs to chew on?

You want the very best for your canine companion. You carefully choose your pup's food, toys, and treats but now you find yourself wondering whether bones are a natural treat or a health hazard. Today, our Modesto vets explore whether bones are safe for dogs.

Can dogs eat bones safely?

Bones can provide your pup with a number of essential minerals and other nutrients while also satisfying your dog's appetite. Not only that, chewing stimulates saliva enzymes, which aids in the prevention of plaque buildup and gum disease helping to 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 bones good for dogs? Are cooked bones bad for dogs? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of giving bones to dogs in order to answer these questions and more.

Pros - The Benefits of Giving Bones to Your Dog

Many pet parents believe that chewing bones is a natural pleasure that our four-legged friends have enjoyed for centuries, and there are certainly some benefits to this activity, such as:

  • Dental Health - One of the main reasons people give bones to their dogs is 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.
  • Mental Stimulation - Chewing on bones can provide mental stimulation and 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.
  • Nutritional Value - Bones can be a source of essential nutrients, especially if they are raw bones. They contain marrow, which is rich in fat and can provide dogs with additional calories. Bones also contain calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals that contribute to overall nutrition.

Cons - The Risks Involved in Allowing Your Dog to Chew Bones

Nonetheless, if you are planning to give your dog natural bones it's important to understand the very real health risks involved. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Dental Injuries - While bones can help maintain dental health, 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 particularly risky.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What should I give my dog to chew on?

Now that you understand the risks involved in allowing your dog to chew on bones, you may be wondering what safer options are available. Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Raw Bones - If you choose to give bones to your dog, 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.
  • 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.

How do I know what's best for my dog?

When it comes to giving bones to dogs, the safety aspect is a crucial consideration. While bones can provide benefits such as dental health, mental stimulation, and nutritional value, they also come with risks. Dental injuries, choking hazards, and digestive issues are potential concerns that must not be overlooked.

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 individual 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.

Do you have questions about how to keep your dog healthy and happy? Our vets are here to help. Contact our Modesto vets today to book an appointment for your canine companion.

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