The common movie and cartoon trope of a cute pup happily chewing on a bone is, in fact, more than a bit dangerous — many dog owners are unaware of this, but bones are generally neither safe nor healthy for dogs. Most bones are actually hazardous for dogs and known to potentially cause various health problems.
Before we move on, let's just consider the major threats.
Hazards of bones for dogs
The following are the most common complications associated with bone chewing by dogs:
- Fractured teeth
- Mouth injuries
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Airway obstruction — the most dangerous one and not at all uncommon! This is when bones slide down the throat and block the airways, causing your dog to choke.
Are there any types of bones that are actually safe?
It is best not to allow your dog to chew on bones at all, but this may be difficult in practice. Generally, the risks apply to bones from all animal types and include both raw and cooked bones. Still, the highest risk is with cooked bones — especially those from poultry because they tend to break off, whereas raw bones are considered somewhat safer.
Tips for dog owners
According to Carmela Stamper, a vet in the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, “It is recommended to supervise your dog with any chew toy or bone chewing. And if it “just doesn't seem to be acting right or as usual, call your veterinarian right away!”
If your dog is small, prevent it from chewing large bones, as this naturally carries greater risk. Of course, the fact that your dog is large does not mean it is safe to chew on bones, so supervise in any case and avoid bones whenever possible.
Also, be wary and keep dishes out of the dog's reach when you’re cooking or eating. And beware of what you put in the trash bin — dogs are great at helping themselves to thrown-away bones while no one's watching.
Alternatives to bones
Chewing is necessary for dogs, so it is best to look for alternatives to bones that carry no threat. Nowadays, you can purchase a range of specially made dog toys, teeth chews and other dog treats that can fully satisfy your dog's need to chew. Make sure you talk to your vet about the best and safest options for your canine friend.