Canines have been happily gnawing on them before the dawn of history, so why are bones such a controversial topic among dog owners? There are many facets to the debate: beef bones are ok, chicken are bad; raw bones are safe, cooked are dangerous; some breeds can, some breeds can't, etc. Being a dog owner myself, I decided to do a bit of research to try to separate fact from fiction. If, like me, you've found yourself confused as to whether or not it's ok to give bones to your precious pooch, then reading this would be a good place to start. However, please know that this blog post is meant to give you some general information and basic guidelines for feeding bones to MOST dogs. Consult your vet for advice tailored to your particular pet, as there appears to be no one-size-fits-all set of rules when it comes to this tricky topic.
On Bones and Breeds
It turns out that some breeds don't have the kind of jaw structure that can safely handle bone chewing. According to many experts, Brachiocephalic (flat-faced) breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, and Shih-Tzus should not be given bones as they're far more prone to choking on them than non-Brachiocephalic breeds. If your breed can handle bones, make sure that you offer bones that are size appropriate. Generally, the bone should be longer than the dog's muzzle, so it can't fit inside the mouth and accidentally be swallowed whole.
Bone Dangers & Prevention
The most common dangers when it comes to feeding your dog bones are: 1) broken teeth 2) bone splintering which may cause internal damage 3) blockage of esophagus, windpipe, or intestines. You can help prevent these and other unfortunate scenarios by following some general guidelines:
• Never give your dog broiled, baked, or barbecued bones. Bones cooked in this way have been dried out and are liable to splinter. Cooked chicken bones in particular are very brittle, so don't feed them to your dog.
• Opt for fresh raw bones with some meat on them (except pork, which should never be served uncooked). Whole bones are best, as cut bones have dangerous sharp edges.
• Take the bone away after 20 minutes of chewing, then rinse it and store it in the fridge or freezer. Discard after three or four days.
• If the bone is chewed down to the point where it can fit into your dog's mouth whole, throw it out and give your dog a new one.
• Don't give bones to a hungry dog! They may hurt themselves by overzealous gnawing, so it's best to wait until after they've eaten.
We all want our dogs to be happy, and nothing sends them over the moon faster than throwing them a nice meaty bone. Bones also help keep their teeth clean and provide them with calcium and phosphorus. However, despite it being an age-old tradition, feeding bones to domesticated dogs does present some hazards which many people believe aren't worth the benefits. In fact, the FDA and this article on PetMD advise against it entirely. We encourage you to do your own homework and talk to your vet in order to make the best decision for you and your pup.
By Maya M.