The Safest Bones for Your Dog

April 30, 2019 4 min read

Bones have a number of benefits for dogs:

  • They clean teeth
  • They promote healthy jaw development
  • They provide mental stimulation, helping dogs feel relaxed and content

However, not all bones are equally beneficial. In fact, whereas some bones are quite safe, others can be extremely dangerous. It is important to know what are the safest bones to avoid emergencies surgeries — and even fatalities.

Why You Should Never Feed Your Dog Cooked Bones

Most people know to steer clear of cooked chicken bones. In actual fact, cooking bones of any type weakens the bone’s structure, making it prone to splintering. This can lead to a number of health problems.

1. Mouth Injuries

Sharp pieces of bone can break off, cutting the tongue, gums, tonsils, or cheeks. This can cause severe bleeding and pain.

2. Trapped in Lower Jaw

There is always a risk that brittle bones may become stuck in your dog’s lower jaw. This is frightening for your dog, who may panic. If you are unable to remove the bone yourself, take your dog to the vet.

3. Stuck in Esophagus

Another place where a cooked bone can become stuck is the esophagus — the passage from the mouth to the stomach. Your dog will need to try to bring the bone back up to his mouth. If the bone does not work free, a visit to the vet is necessary.

4. Digestive Problems

Eating cooked bones (or cooked anything, for that matter) is unnatural for dogs. For this reason, dogs often suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation after consumption. Constipation can be quite severe, due to the high calcium content of the bone that causes a firm stool. Furthermore, sharp fragments can scratch the large intestine and rectum, which can cause your dog severe pain.

5. Blockage in the Gut

Another way a cooked bone can impact your dog’s digestion is if it becomes trapped in his stomach or intestines. This occur if your dog swallows a large piece of bone and it cannot continue passing through his digestive tract. Your dog may require surgery to remove the chunk of bone.

Particularly large pieces stuck in the stomach can call for an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. This involves using a tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tool. Your vet will the tube to free the bone from the dog’s stomach.

6. Inhaled Fragment

Small pieces of bone are equally problematic. If one breaks off while your dog is chewing, he could inhale it. This will cause the fragment of bone to remain in your dog’s windpipe, making it difficult for him to breathe. In such a situation, you’ll need an emergency appointment at a veterinary clinic or animal hospital.

7. Peritonitis

Cooked bones can tear holes in the stomach lining or intestines. This can lead to a bacterial infection in the abdomen called peritonitis, which is notoriously difficult to treat. If you notice any signs of peritonitis (such as fever, vomiting, black stools, lethargy, or weakness), take your dog straight to an emergency clinic. The infection can be fatal.

8. Rectal Bleeding

When pieces of cooked bone are particularly sharp, they can cause severe bleeding in the rectum. You’ll need to see your vet to ensure your dog is not at risk of further complications.

Bonus: Lack of Nutritional Value

One last reason why you should avoid cooked bones is nutritional value. Just like with meat, cooking removes some of the nutrients from bones, resulting in fewer health benefits for your dog.

Why Raw Bones Are Safer

Instead of giving your dog leftover bones from your meal, buy him raw bones. You can find raw bones that pose none of the above risks and that have additional advantages.

When you purchase raw bones for your dog, just make sure that they come from a trusted source. Also be sure to store than correctly to keep them free from microbes.

In addition, bear in mind that some types of raw bones are almost as dangerous as cooked ones. For instance, pork and rib bones can splinter easily even when raw. Furthermore, if you give a dog a bone that is smaller than his mouth, there is a risk that he will swallow it whole. For these reasons, it is best to stick to the following types of raw bones.

1. Beef Marrow

Dogs of all sizes can enjoy beef marrow bones. They are not too hard for small dogs, and, at the same time, they are safe for even the largest dogs. Plus, a beef marrow does more than just clean teeth. The nutrients it contains can:

  • Lower your dog’s risk for heart disease and certain types of cancers
  • Improve kidney and digestive function
  • Speed up the healing process
  • Contribute to the production of red and white blood cells

2. Knuckle Bones

Knuckle bones are some of the largest, hardest bones around. They are perfect for medium and large dogs who love to be occupied chewing for long periods of time. Plus, they are great for keeping teeth free of tartar. Dogs are only able to gnaw at these bones slowly and there is no risk of chunks breaking off that they could swallow.

When a knuckle bone still has the tendon, it is particularly appealing.

3. Lamb Femurs

Raw lamb bones provide your dog with extra nutrients, making them a great alternative to a supplement. For instance, they are packed with the Omega-3 fatty acids your dog needs to stay healthy.

The best type of lamb bone is the femur, as it is large enough to not pose any risks. It is an excellent choice for a treat a couple time a week. More often than that may cause constipation or could add too much fat to your dog’s diet.

Feed your dog a variety of different raw bones regularly. The best time is right after a meal, as he won’t be hungry and he’ll chew the bone slowly. Always pick a large enough bone for your dog — about the size of his head is perfect. If your dog is a giant breed, bison knuckles are a top choice for this very reason.

Click here to get beef marrow bones.

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