Are Bones Safe For Dogs?

BY | June 24 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Are Bones Safe For Dogs?

Bones Safe For Dogs

Are Bones Safe For Dogs?


Dogs are so often paired with bones that it might be hard to imagine that perhaps they arenโ€™t meant for each other after all. In recent years, many veterinarians and even the FDA have cautioned against giving dogs bones because of the health risks they pose. So, are bones safe for dogs?

But just what is so dangerous about bones, does anyone disagree, and what are the alternatives? Letโ€™s take a look.

Wait a Secondโ€ฆ Donโ€™t Wolves Eat Bones?

This is a common and understandable question. If dogs evolved from wolves and wolves consume bones, shouldnโ€™t it be safe for your dog to do so as well?The truth is that wolves usually donโ€™t eat the large bones of their prey; they are often left behind with the animalโ€™s hide, skull, and stomach contents.Additionally, wild wolves have shorter lifespans on average than domesticated dogs due to disease, parasites, and injuries -- which yes, can occur if a wolf swallows an unfriendly bone.

RELATED STORY: Why Using Dog Dental Chews Improves Tooth Health

Why Are Bones Dangerous?

The FDA published a report in 2010 outlining the dangers associated with feeding your dog bones.โ€œSome people think it's safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast," says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration."Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian's office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death."The FDA goes on to list 10 reasons why itโ€™s a bad idea to give your dog a bone:

Bones can break teeth

And fixing broken teeth can cost a pretty penny.

Bones can injure the mouth and tongue

These injuries can be very bloody and messy, as well as painful for your dog. They could also land you at the veterinarian's office.

Bones can get stuck around your dog's lower jaw

This usually occurs with round, hallow bones (like the end of a marrow bone). It can not only be a very frightening experience for a dog, it can also be painful and costly at the vet.

Bones can get trapped in the esophagus

Which is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This can cause your dog to gag and in most cases you will need to head to the vet's office.

Bones can get trapped in the windpipe

This can happen if a dog inhales a small piece of bone. This is an emergency situation, as your dog will be having a hard time breathing. Go to the vet's office or an emergency clinic right away.

Bones can get stuck in the stomach

If the bone was small enough to swallow but not large enough to move from the stomach to the intestines, your dog will most likely require surgery to remove it.

Bones can get trapped in the intestines

If this happens, it can cause a gastrointestinal blockage, and surgery may be required.

Constipation

It can be difficult for a dog to squeeze out sharp, jagged bone fragments. This is a painful situation and requires a trip to the veterinarian.

Bleeding from the rectum

Those sharp, jagged fragments can cause injury to the rectum and severe bleeding. This can be very messy and you'll need to see the veterinarian. Never attempt to pull out a bone fragment that is partially protruding from your dog's rear end; this could cause further injury.

Bones can cause peritonitis

Peritonitis is a severe bacterial infection of the abdomen that can occur when bone fragments puncture your dog's stomach or intestines. This infection can be deadly and requires emergency veterinary treatment.

Varying Opinions

Some veterinarians and raw food groups argue that while cooked bones are not safe for dogs, raw bones are because they are softer, less likely to splinter, and more easily digestible. Talk to you veterinarian to find out their opinion on the matter. The opinion on whether bones are safe dogs will vary based on their recommended diets.

RELATED STORY: Raw Food Dog Diet

Safe Alternatives

No one is saying to throw out chewing altogether. Indeed, the right kind of chewing can be good for your dogโ€™s teeth and breath, soothe the painful gums of teething pups, and be an outlet for mental and physical energy.Ask your veterinarian about bone alternatives and chews like Greenies and Kongs, and always supervise your dog whenever you give them a new chew.

What do you think? Should you give your dog bones? Leave a comment and let us know your opinion, and to keep your dog safe and healthy, consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at PetPlus.com.For more information: No Bones About It: Bones Are Unsafe For Your Dog via the FDA

Why do Dogs Like Bones

Every dog owner must have gazed in wonder at the dog chewing blissfully at its bone. For a canine, nothing can be a better sedative. It is strange that a dog will continue to chew the bone even if there is no meat on the bone. It not only chews it but also crushes it. The end of the meal will see most of the bone disappearing within its body. It is puzzling to see that an animal loves a thing which has zero nutrition value. The dog loves the bone so much that it can spend hours consuming it.

Fat is important

The answer lies in the annals of history when humans first domesticated dogs. The clue lies in the sites located in New Mexico where bison bones were discovered. The bisons concerned was hunted down around 1450 AD. The hunters, the archaeologists discovered, left the female bison alone but took away the meat of the male bison. A little more investigation found out that the kill happened not during the winter time-the customary bison hunting season, but during the spring. Female animals killed during spring does not taste well as the fat content in their body is found to be less. The female bison was probably pregnant and severely stressed resulting in a lower quantity of fat in the body. The herbivores live off their fat reserves, and the fat content of both male and females are much reduced. A diet consisting of only protein for predators is inadequate for the calories needed to sustain the body. There is also the chance of protein poisoning. This is why the hunters took away the male bison's meat and not the female herbivore's.

Bone marrow helps to survive All of these leads us to the answer of why dogs love to chew on bones. The changes in season affect the ready availability of plants and vegetables which are eaten as food by herbivores. The latter in turn are prey to carnivores. Bones are essentially fat reservoirs. The marrow of the bone is rich in fat, and this keeps the animal alive at a time when there is a lack of food. Bone marrows are nearly 50 percent fat in composition. There is also the presence of bone grease, the chemical which bonds the essential calcium to the bone. For a predator who caught its prey at a particularly bad time of the year, then the bone marrow becomes an invaluable fat source. This fat literally multiples the nutrition capability of the prey. For a carnivorous animal like a dog, the bone grease, to its genes, make the bridge connecting life and death. You should always give the raw bone to your dog and not a cooked one with no fat.

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