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How To Safely Give Your Dog a Bone?

Creating an enriching environment for your dog can involve offering various types of chew toys. You may have also observed people giving their dogs bones, but is it safe? Our veterinarians at Oak Grove are here to provide an explanation.

Can Dogs Eat Bones?

Bones offer valuable minerals and nutrients for your dog while also promoting dental health by stimulating saliva enzymes, preventing plaque buildup, and reducing gum disease.

Additionally, providing bones for your dog to chew on may discourage undesirable behaviors like excessive scratching or licking. However, veterinarians caution that allowing your dog to chew on bones poses serious health risks.

So, which bones are safe for your dog to eat? Are there any benefits? Should they be cooked or left raw? To address these inquiries and more, let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of giving bones to dogs.

The Pros of Giving Bones to Dogs

Many people point out that chewing bones is a natural pleasure that our canine companions have enjoyed for centuries, and there are certainly some benefits to this, including:

Dental Health - One main reason people give their dogs bones 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, are rich in fat, and can provide dogs with additional calories. Bones also contain calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals that contribute to the overall nutrition.

The Cons of Giving Bones to Dogs

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

Dental Injuries - It's true that bones offer benefits for cleaning your dog's teeth but can also lead to dental injuries. Your dog may experience cracked or fractured teeth, resulting in pain, infection, and the necessity for veterinary care. Particularly risky are hard bones, such as weight-bearing bones from large animals.

Choking & Obstruction - Cooked bones, especially when chewed, can splinter and break into sharp fragments, posing a choking hazard. If swallowed, these shards can also cause intestinal obstructions, potentially leading to a life-threatening emergency. Dogs that are small, are aggressive chewers, or are prone to gulping are at higher risk.

Digestive Issues - Some dogs may experience digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or pancreatitis due to bones. Fatty bones, like marrow bones, can cause gastrointestinal upset, while sharp bone fragments can potentially harm the digestive tract. It's important to closely monitor dogs with sensitive stomachs or a history of digestive issues.

What Bones Are Safe for Dogs?

In light of the risks involved in allowing your dog to chew on bones, you may be wondering what safer options you should consider. 

Raw Bones - If you give your dog bones, consider raw bones instead of cooked options. Raw beef or bison knuckle bones are less likely to splinter and cause injuries. Always supervise your dog while they chew on any 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 - Talk to your veterinarian to find appropriate treats and chews that promote dental health and are safe for your dog's specific needs. These are specially formulated to support oral hygiene and can be a safer alternative to bones.

How Do I Make The Right Decision For My Dog?

If you're thinking about giving your dog bones, prioritize safety above all else. Bones offer various benefits, such as improving dental health and providing mental stimulation, but they also pose risks.

Dental injuries, choking hazards, and digestive issues are all potential concerns that you shouldn't ignore.

As a responsible pet owner, you must carefully consider the potential benefits and risks and make an informed decision.Consulting with your veterinarian is essential to determine whether giving bones to your dog is safe and suitable 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.

If you would like advice on the best type of chews for your dog, contact our Oak Grove vets today to book an appointment and discuss the options.

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Oak Grove Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinarians are passionate about animal health and are proud to serve our patients. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment and to get started.

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