As anyone who’s ever seen a cartoon would know, some dogs may like to gnaw on the occasional flavorful bone.
What may not be as apparent, however, is that bones can be a lot more fragile than one might think.
Especially when it’s constantly being worn down by a dog’s teeth.
After some time, a bone can snap and pieces of it may be swallowed by your pet, or some might eat the whole bone if it’s small enough.
A responsible owner is right to worry if this may affect their pet’s health.
For any nervous dog owners, rest assured that dogs can in fact digest some types of bones. This, however, does not mean it’s safe to feed a dog a bone, or to let yours swallow any of it because there are still a number of potential risks associated with the snack.
Responsible pet owners should be equipped with the knowledge of what bones are the most dangerous, and if it can’t be avoided, how to most safely give your dog a bone.
What is a Bone Made of?
If you’re going to feed your dog anything, it’s best to know what it’s made of to make sure that it’s the right fit for your pet, or even edible at all.
Bones are made up of multiple layers of material, ranging in density and function, all of which are generally edible by both dogs and people (but notice how you don’t see many people eating bones).
The outer portions of the bone are made up of the periosteum and compact bone, the first being a thin membrane that contains blood vessels and the other the hard portion that’s most visible.
The next layer is the cancellous bone which looks like the spongy section when one’s broken open.
That layer is then what protects the bone marrow, the jelly-like substance that contains the most nutrients out of any portion, and is also generally the most acceptable and least harmful to eat.
Dogs, however, don’t have the ability to make a clean cut in the bone to suck out of the marrow and are more likely to eat the snack in chunks or to just swallow it whole.
This is where the danger comes.
Risks of Feeding Your Dog Bones
The first mistake some might make feeding their dog a bone is choosing the wrong kind.
These can include poultry or pork bones which are high in fat, and could severely upset your dog’s stomach.
Cooking bones can cause them to become brittle and to splinter easier, posing a risk to your dog’s mouth, throat, and stomach, possibly cutting any number of them.
This also goes for swallowing small chunks of bones, or in cases with larger dogs, swallowing them entirely, there’s a major choking hazard.
Even if the bone doesn’t look to be choking your dog, it could still be lodged in their esophagus and be causing them an extreme amount of discomfort.
If your dog swallows an entire bone, watch for signs of stress or discomfort, and take them to the vet as soon as possible to avoid the problem getting any worse.
While digestion of bones is possible, it isn’t a guarantee that it will always happen.
If an intact bone is then excreted, it could then severely damage a dog’s anus as it passes.
The process of digestion may be hazardous as well, posing yet another risk to your dog’s health.
How to Safely Feed Your Dog a Bone
To more stubborn dog owners who wish to continue giving their dogs these snacks, there are at least some precautions that can be taken to ensure a safer and more pleasurable time.
The first comes in choosing the right type of bone, those being soft and raw meaty bones that aren’t as high in fat.
Also, any dog chewing on a bone should be monitored at all times, and a timer of fifteen minutes or so should be set to keep the level of risk as low as possible.
After a bone is taken away, it should be refrigerated to keep it preserved.
Just like any other snack, bones can go “bad” after a couple of days, which is in no way beneficial to your dog’s health.
To avoid choking, one should also choose the right size of bone for your dog.
If it’s too small, you run the risk of your dog swallowing the entire thing, leading to a very large choking hazard.
Typically, the rule is the bone should be larger than your dog’s muzzle so it can’t be swallowed.
Bones might also serve better as a post-meal snack as well, as since your pet has already had its fill, it won’t be so encouraged to completely devour its treat.
Alternatives to Bones
As much as your dog may seem to enjoy bones, it’s one duty as a dog owner to put their health and comfort above anything else, and just like a child, that might mean not giving them what they want.
There are plenty of alternatives to bones on the market, ones that can fulfill either quality the real thing has, yet in an even more effective way.
There are treats that are packed with nutrients, ones that are specifically designed to keep your dog healthy and give it what it needs.
To fulfill the chewing quality of bones, either as a pastime or an anxiety-controlling method, there are chew toys designed to not fracture or be able to be swallowed that can provide a much safer experience for your dog.
We all want to make sure our dogs are happy, and we’ve been raised to believe that bones can do just that, but one quick search can reveal how dangerous these treats can truly be for our pets.
Bones pose a number of risks for dogs and while there are ways to lower those risks, the best way is always to just remove them from your pet’s diet, and find safer alternatives.