The Best Bones For Your Dog To Chew On, Safely
Dogs love chewing!. You may want to give your dog bones to chew on but have probably heard that bones can be dangerous for your dog. With all the information out there, it’s not easy to sort out the facts. Yes, bones can be potential choking hazards, but there are also many benefits that come with it. Here are some simple rules that will keep your dog safe when feeding on bones, so that it can enjoy all the goodness that comes from it.
What bones can dogs eat?
Raw bones are the best option in terms of safety as well as nutrition. Avoid giving your dog cooked bones as these can splinter and cause damage to your dog’s mouth, throat and intestines. Cook bones also do not contain as much nutrients as raw bones. Bones that are smoked are less likely to splinter, but will still require you to supervise your dog when it’s being chewed on.
Raw bones for dogs
Here’s the lowdown on the best raw bones that you can give your dog:
Beef bones - Beef bones are probably the largest bones that you can buy. They are suitable for medium to strong chewers. Dogs who love to chew and gnaw will love beef bones. If your dog tends to chew household items, beef bones might help to occupy them.
Lamb bones - Lamb bones are great for smaller dogs who need something tougher than usual.
Kangaroo bones - Kangaroo bones are tougher than lamb bones. They come in different shapes from the usual bones and are rather hard to come by unless you are in Australia.
Deer or goat antlers - These are probably the toughest bones available for your dog. They will last long and keep your dog busy for hours. However, antlers can be rather expensive.
Chicken bones - Chicken bones MUST only be given raw as they are very soft. Chicken bones should only be given to very weak chewers or puppies. Be aware that they can splinter, and small pieces can cause your dog to choke. If you give your dog chicken bones, be sure to supervise them at all times.
Pork bones and rib bones - Avoid giving your dog pork bones or rib bones as they are very soft and can splinter easily. Small pieces are also a choking hazard.
Other dog chews
Some dog owners prefer commercial chews for safety and convenience. Dental chews and non edible chew toys will help keep your dog’s teeth clean as well as satisfy your dog’s urge to chew.
Nylon bones are tough and almost indestructible. Thus, you do not have to worry about your dog choking on small parts. They are sometimes infused with flavor to keep your dog interested in gnawing at them.
Bully sticks are also another alternative that you can consider. They are durable, fully digestible and will not break into small pieces. You will however, have to throw them out when they become smaller in length than your dog’s muzzle. Also, bully sticks should only be used as treats as they are not nutritious dog food.
Whether it's a raw bone, nylon chew toy or bully stick, make sure that you remove the chew after ten to fifteen minutes. This will help to keep your dog from choking if the chews become gnawed down. As with raw bones, do not leave your dog alone with commercial chews.
Best bones for small dogs
Small dogs can enjoy bones from birds and small animals. Here are several types that you can opt for.
- Quail - You can cut up quail into halves or quarters for your dog. You need to be careful not to serve your dog bones that have sharp edges. Also make sure that your dog chews up the bones completely before swallowing.
- Chicken necks - Raw chicken necks are one of the best options for small dogs. They can be bought from your local butcher or market.
- Chicken and duck feet - Chicken and duck feet contain glucosamine and chondroitin, which are needed to keep your dog healthy. Give it to your dog raw and meaty so that your dog will chew. To be safe, you should also remove the bone when your dog is halfway done with it so that small pieces are not gulped down.
- Chicken and duck wings - Again, these bones should be given raw under supervision to ensure that your dog chews them up properly before swallowing them.
Do remember that bones that are suitable for small dogs may not be suitable for larger breeds. Always make sure to keep an eye on your dog when you are feeding it bones as it can be a potential choking hazard.
Marrow bones for dogs
Marrow bones are packed full of calcium, vitamins and minerals. Dogs love chewing on marrow bones and doing so can help to keep them calm.
However, bone marrow also presents the similar dangers as other raw bones. Pieces that break off and are swallowed whole can cause choking, as well as perforation and blockage in the intestines. They can also cause your dog’s teeth to fracture.
If you give your dog marrow bones, do remove it when your dog has chewed out the marrow. Marrow bones that have begun to dry become harder and more brittle. This makes them easy to splinter and thus, should be discarded immediately to prevent damage to your dog’s mouth, throat and intestines.
Another thing to take note of is the high fat content in marrow bones. This can cause stomach upset in some dogs. The high fat content also means high calories. As such, it’s best to give them to your dog only as an occasional treat.
Safety guidelines when giving raw bones to your dog
Here are several precautions that you can take to ensure your dog’s safety when it’s chewing on raw bones.
- Keep an eye on your dog when it’s chewing on bones. Do not leave your dog unattended as they might bite off too much and choke. Dogs who are aggressive chewers may also injure themselves
- Bones that have been chewed down should be thrown out. Gnawed down bones can be brittle and sprinter easily. Smaller parts are a choking hazard.
- Give bones after meals. Dogs who are less hungry are less likely to swallow a bone. Having food in the stomach will also signal to your dog’s body to produce stomach acids which will help to digest bones.
- Do not give your dog bones that can be swallowed whole. The size of your dog matters when it comes to bones. Small bones are not safe for big dogs.
- Give your dog bones that are longer in length than their muzzle. Doing this will make it impossible for your dog to swallow the bone whole.
- Do not give your dog bones that have been cut lengthwise. Cutting a bone lengthwise increases its potential to splinter.
- Do not give your dog pork bones or rib bones as these bones splinter easily.
- Remove the bone after 10 minutes. This will ensure that the bone is not gnawed down and thus, reduce injuries.
- Keep bones in the refrigerator if you plan on giving the same bone to your dog a few times. However, do throw them out after three to four days. This reduces contamination and bacterial growth that may cause your dog to get sick.
- Do not give bones to dogs who have had restorative dental work. This may cause their teeth to break.
- Do not give marrow bones to dogs who have pancreatitis. This can cause flare ups and diarrhea as marrow bones have high fat content
- Do not give bones to dogs who have a tendency to bite it in half and swallow big chunks. If your dog inhales its food rather than chews, then bones can be a potential choking hazard.
- Arm yourself with knowledge on what to do if your dog chokes on a bone. This will help you to respond well if an emergency occurs.
Benefits of feeding bones to dogs
Although there are several precautions that you should take, there are also a number of benefits of feeding bones to your dog.
Health and nutritional benefits
Chewing on bones can help to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. One study on dogs shows that feeding bones to dogs can help control dental calculus. 95% of the dental calculus was removed by the end of the 2nd week when the dogs were given beef oxtail instead of moist kibble periodically. In another study, raw beef bone reduced dental calculus by 82% after 12 days.
Raw meaty bones are also a source of protein, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamin C, lysine and calcium. Micro minerals such as magnesium, copper and selenium are also present in raw bones. These are all essential for healthy bones, teeth and joints.
Raw bones also provide roughage in your dog’s diet. They encourage healthy faecal motions and thus, help to cleanse your dog’s digestive tract.
As dog owners, you would most probably have heard of horror stories where dogs chew up all sorts of stuff in the house. One of the reasons is because chewing is a behavior that releases dopamine, a chemical that regulates feelings of happiness. Thus, chewing is a behavior that can help keep your dog calm and content.
Raw bones are the best type of bones that you can feed your dog. They can be used as part of Petcube’s raw diet or as an occasional treat if your dog is on dry dog food. Always be sure to supervise your dog when it’s chewing on a bone. Do consult your vet if you are not too sure about whether to incorporate bones in your dog’s diet.