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The facts about giving bones

Big dog gnaws the bone. Portrait of a happy dog

Warning: Large bones can break teeth, so always supervise your dog when eating raw bones.

Dogs and bones seem a natural pairing. Unfortunately, some bones present health and safety hazards for your dogs. Cats, on the other hand, are delicate creatures and take time to eat their food, so we rarely see cats with health problems from eating raw bones, unless they have eaten something unfavourable from outside that may have had parasites.

Chewing is a natural behaviour, and there are safe dental chews and bones available. In fact, bones are a great boredom buster and can help with mental stimulation while also keeping your pet’s teeth clean.

Cooked bones are dangerous, however. Most people know that cooked chicken bones are bad for dogs, but cooked bones of any kind are dangerous, because they break and splinter into small, sharp pieces that can cut your pets mouth and digestive organs. Bone fragments can cause several health problems, including:

  • Severe constipation
  • Lacerations of the mouth and tongue
  • Choking (airways can be blocked)
  • Broken teeth
  • Cuts and wounds inside the mouth
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • An intestinal blockage that may require surgery

The safest bet is to never give your pet the leftovers from the Christmas ham, the pork roast, or the beef from the family dinner. In addition to being dangerous, cooked bones are not as healthy as other bones, because the cooking process strips them of many valuable nutrients. In general, raw bones are a lot safer than cooked bones.

Raw bones NOT to be fed:

  • Pork bones, which easily splinter and crack
  • Rib bones of any kind, which are small and likely to crack or get stuck in your dog’s throat
  • Any bone smaller than your dog’s mouth that they may swallow whole

One note of caution around feeding your dog raw bones: they can transmit food-borne illnesses like salmonella. If you have given your dog a raw bone it is difficult to take it away, but we should really throw it out after a couple of hours, or they might just dig it up a few months later.

Safe non-edible chew toys

Many dog owners choose non-edible chew toys for their convenience and safety. They are a tough, durable nylon bone infused with flavour. It can satisfy your dogs’ urge to chew, cleans their teeth, and is virtually indestructible, with no small parts.

Which character is your pet with bones and treats?

  • The Inhaler: Gone before it hits the ground! Inhalers eat them so quickly (just in case another should be thinking about taking it away) and they bite off large chunks and swallow them fast.
  • The Terminator: These are the dogs that try to (and often succeed in) thoroughly destroying whatever they get their mouths on! Raw bones, rubber bones, indestructible bones. They love the challenge, but it can be tough on the teeth and gums!
  • The Secret Saver: Not quite ready to eat their bone or share their toy, they spend most the day moving it from one location to another, trying to bury or cover it up with anything they can find. Once the time is right, they will have their quiet ‘moment’ to enjoy and indulge with no threats in sight.
  • The Nibbler: These dogs are lovers, not fighters. They take their time and savour their chews and toys slowly, licking them slowly, taking them to bed or burying them under the blankets and giving them the respect and attention they deserve.

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