Dogs love to chew bones, particularly raw beef bones. The correct bone will satisfy a dog's natural urge to chew and keep his teeth clean and white. Before giving your pet a beef bone, pay careful attention to the bone size and shape so that you can keep your dog safe while he enjoys his treat.
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Raw Bones Only
Dogs should only be given raw bones, according to Healthy Pets. Cooking the bone dries it out, making the bone brittle and more likely to break or splinter. Splinters can cause injuries in the dog's mouth or digestive tract. Bones for recreational chewing include hip or femur bones from bison or cattle and are useful for keeping a dog's mouth and teeth healthy, particularly if cartilage and meat are still present. These large beef bones provide little nutritional benefit, but plenty of mental stimulation for the gnawing dog.
According to Dr. Ihor Basko, of All Creatures Great & Small, in Kauai, Hawaii, beef bones should be an appropriate size for your dog. To determine the suitability of a bone size, the bone should be longer than the length of the dog's muzzle. Large weight-bearing bones are best, particularly for large dogs. For dogs with particularly aggressive chewing habits, large knuckle bones may be used in the place of a shank, which can be bitten in half and swallowed.
Bone marrow is the soft, fatty material that can be found in the center of weight-bearing beef bones. Most dogs can enjoy the marrow found in beef bones, but it can add significant calories to the dog's diet if consumed daily. Dogs with pancreatitis or sensitive stomachs should not have access to marrow, as the fat content could cause digestive upset or a flareup of pancreatitis, according to The Bark. Beef marrow bones can be boiled to soften them and the marrow can be scraped out and fed to the dog. The cooking process will remove some of the fat.
Beef bones should not be given to brachycephalic breeds, as these dogs are not able to chew the bones safely. Dogs should be supervised closely while enjoying their bone to ensure that they do not break or splinter it. Dogs with pancreatitis should not be given beef bones as the marrow in the bone can cause diarrhea and a flareup of the pancreatitis, according to Healthy Pets. Round bones can get stuck around the bottom of a dog's jaw, so these should be avoided. Beef bones should not be given to dogs who have had dental work or crowns, as safer alternatives are available. Giving the bone after a meal will reduce the dog's temptation to chew aggressively.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Healthy Pets: Bones Can Kill Your Dog-Find Out Which Ones are Safe
- PetMD: Is It Ok to Give Bones to Dogs?
- PetMD: Raw Bones or Cooked Bones...Are Either Safe for Dogs?
- Dr. Basko: Throw Me A Bone! 4 Tips for Feeding Bones to Your Dogs Safely
- Pets Adviser: Don’t Give That Dog a Bone
- PetMD: The Nutritional Aspects of Bone Composition
- Integrative Veterinary Care: Raw Bones-What You Need to Know
- The Bark: Bone Marrow Mishaps