Ask ten different people about feeding dogs bones and you will get different answers. Ask a few vets the exact same thing and answers will be just as diversified. Can dogs digest bones? Are they allowed to have bones? The truth is there are more answers to such questions. Practically, dogs are allowed to have bones and can digest many of them, but there are some restrictions.
Just like dogs or other things, bones come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Moreover, their densities are just as diversified. Simply put, one type of bone can make an excellent treat for your furry friend. Another type of bone could be a potential accident. The more you know about dog bone digestion, the easier it is to make an informed decision.
With all these, you should still have a chat with the vet before introducing new foods into your dog’s diet, especially when it comes to foods that could be harmful.
Benefits of feeding your dog bones
So, can dogs digest bones? Yes, they can, but with a few conditions. Before getting there, it is important to understand the natural benefits of bones in a dog’s diet and not only.
Eating bones is mostly about chewing, which is a common behavior. It is not about eating, supplementing your dog or making sure it gets plenty of nutrients. The diet is supposed to take care of all these. Meanwhile, bones underline a behavior.
A bone is like a toothbrush for your pet’s teeth. The continuous chewing process will break tarter deposits down. You cannot really brush your dog’s teeth, not to mention other procedures to break tartar down. Therefore, a chewy bone is by far the optimal way to do it naturally. Less tartar involves a lower risk of gum disease.
Chewing will also bring in lots of saliva. Try to grab your dog’s bone and you will find it soiled. Saliva is rich in enzymes that prevent the buildup of plaque.
Now, when it comes to the nutritional content, most of the store-bought treats are worthless. While they may have a few minerals and vitamins, they are relatively low in nutrients. On the other hand, raw bones make a better option because they are rich in phosphorus, calcium and a bunch of other minerals.
They work on the digestive system, prevent bloating sensations and anal gland issues, not to mention promoting healthy digestion. Chewing is also a great way for your dog to relax, so the activity itself can prevent anxiety and other associated affections.
Best bones to feed your dog
Some bones for dogs are safe and great, but then, you still need to keep the size in consideration. When it comes to other safety standards, raw bones are usually good for dogs. Make sure they have not been cooked first. Whether it comes to beef, lamb, chicken or turkey, these bones are soft and can be safely chewed and digested.
Despite these safety standards, it is worth noting that every kind of bone out there might represent a risk too. There is always the risk of choking, so no bone is 100% safe. If your dog loves bones and swallows them without chewing them properly, choking can be a serious problem. At the same time, bones that are too hard can damage teeth, so pay attention to this aspect.
Get a veterian’s opinion too, no matter what.
Recreational bones are some of the safest options out there. They are not edible, yet they can be safely eaten. However, most dogs will not be able to do it. They make good chewing toys with a bit of flavor and aroma. For instance, imagine those large hip bones with plenty of marrow in the middle – usually from beef. Lemur bones are just as common.
They have a bit of meat and other bits like cartilage and soft tissues by their edges. They are quite common in butcheries.
But on the same note, marrow is relatively fat. If your dog manages to get to it, it will have a decent dose of fat, so you might need to adjust the diet. If your furry friend is a bit overweight or on a diet, you might want to avoid bones filled with marrow.
Another risk associated with raw bones and meat involves bacteria. A contamination can, indeed, occur, so ask the veterian for a bit of advice regarding how to handle these bones. Again, bones come with a few risks, but a little attention to small details will ensure a safety result.
Cooked bones – any good?
Can dogs digest bones when cooked? At a first glance, cooked bones cannot be that bad. After all, you kill most of the bacteria by cooking them. Plus, they might have a few spices around for a better taste. But then, the cooking process affects their integrity and this could be a risk for your dog.
When cooked, they dry. In other words, they are like wood – they can splinter and break without too much hassle. As a direct consequence, your dog can be exposed to numerous issues, such as damage to its teeth, tongue injuries, constipation, rectal bleeding or bones looped around the jaw.
The situation can become even more severe. That rectal bleeding involves some perforations throughout the intestinal tract. Punctures can also cause a series of unwanted problems, including bacterial infections like peritonitis. The esophagus or windpipe may also get a blockage, as well as the entire gastrointestinal tract. Simply put, there are too many risks to even consider giving your dog cooked bones, yet lots of pet owners do it anyway.
Commercial bone treats – are they safe?
Commercial bone treats are meant to be safe. They are relatively alright, especially when made by a reputable manufacturer. They are different from the bones you can get from a butcher’s shop though, as they are normally processed. While quite safe, they may still bring in a few risks for your dog.
There are occasional reports of store-bought bone treats that have caused choking, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, blockages, small cuts or vomiting. It makes no difference what kind of treats you get – from ham bones and rib bones to pork femur bones, you must be careful.
Such chews should be purchased from reputable manufacturers, but you should still ask your veterian for some advice. It will save you some hassle from researching all the products you can find.
Rawhides – a safer option?
Rawhide chews are not as harmful as specific types of bones or store-bought treats, but they do come with a few risks as well. The manufacturing procedures around these products can bring in lots of substances your dog does not need. Toxic chemicals can be used in the composition, not to mention bacterial contaminations. Digestive issues and blockages may also occur.
Artificial treats also bring in sweeteners, tasty chemicals, gelatin or preservatives that can affect your dog and even cause cancer. In other words, make sure you check out the ingredient list should you decide to purchase such things for your furry friend.
Frequently asked questions
Here are a few issues or question marks you might encounter when not sure whether or not your dog can have bones.
Can a dog’s stomach dissolve a bone?
A dog’s stomach is extremely acidic. The acids in there are super strong and can break down pretty much anything. The pH is rated at 1.
How long does it take a dog to digest a bone?
There are many aspects that can influence digestion in dogs. It is not all about the food they eat, but also about the meal frequency and consistency, not to mention the overall hydration. Generally speaking, digestion in dogs takes anywhere between 10 and 24 hours. The harder the food – such as bones, the longer the digestion takes.
Can a dog digest a beef bone?
Pretty much every bone that has not been cooked can be safely eaten by a dog. Beef bones are relatively soft, so they should not pose too many problems. Other than that, turkey or lamb are also accepted. So, can dogs digest bones from beef? Absolutely.
What do I do if my dog swallowed a bone?
If the bone has been properly chewed, there is not much to worry about. If your dog simply swallowed it, check its stool and look for small bone fragments. If you cannot see any pieces within the next 72 hours, get in touch with the veterian. Some vets recommend waiting for 48 hours though. While the issue is not always harmful, the respective bone might be stuck in the throat, esophagus or intestines.
So, can dogs digest bones? Their digestive systems are incredibly strong and can digest pretty much anything. Make sure your dog chews bones properly though, so keep an eye on it. At the same time, raw bones are the best for dogs, as other types of bones can cause injuries.