Dogs and bones: it seems like a natural pairing. But in reality, some bones present health and safety hazards for your dog. Chewing is a natural dog behavior, and there are safe bones available. In fact, dog bones can provide mental stimulation and keep your dog’s teeth clean. But before you hand over any old bone, read on to learn about which bones are safe for dogs.
No cooked bones ever!
Most people know that cooked chicken bones, rib bones and chop bones are bad for dogs. In fact, cooked bones of any kind can be dangerous because they break and splinter into small, sharp pieces that can cut your dog’s mouth and digestive organs and cause a multitude of other health issues.
The safest bet is to never give your dog a bone from the family dinner. Even cooked beef bones can break into dangerous pieces. In addition to being dangerous, cooked bones aren’t as healthy as other bones because the cooking process strips them of many of their beneficial nutrients.
If you want to make use of meat and bones leftover from your meal, consider boiling them up and straining them into a tasty bone broth instead.
Choosing a raw or air dried bone for your dog
In general, raw or air dried bones are a lot safer than cooked bones. However, there are some raw bones you should never feed your dog. These include:
• 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
• Chicken bones, which easily splinter and crack
• Any bone smaller than your dog’s mouth that they may swallow whole
Raw or Air dried bones from cows and ostriches are generally safe when used appropriately. It’s best to know where bones come from, so you should purchase raw bones from a butcher with locally sourced meat. Store them in the freezer and thaw them one at a time to give to your dog.
When choosing a raw or air dried bone for your dog, look for one that’s about the size of their head. Why so big? Well, a big bone will let your dog chew while reducing the chance that they’ll break off and swallow a dangerous chunk. For extra-large dogs, raw or air dried beef and ostrich knuckle bones make great chews!
One note of caution around feeding your dog raw bones: they can communicate food-borne illnesses like salmonella. If you’ve given your dog a raw bone, make sure you throw it out after a couple of hours. I personally prefer the air dried bones, dogs can chew on them days. Once finished their chewing for a couple of hours, store the bone in the fridge or even freezer until chew time the next day.
The air dried bones are safer, last longer and carry less illnesses
Any bone can cause a choking hazard when chewed into small pieces. So, you should always supervise your dog while they’re chewing a bone and take away it away once it’s worn down to a size smaller than their mouth.
Finally, it’s best to give your dog a bone after they’ve already eaten. Hungry dogs are more likely to swallow pieces of bone or chew too hard and potentially injure their mouths. A satiated dog will enjoy the mental stimulation of chewing without feeling the urge to eat the bone.’
Author is Elisabeth Geier who is a writer, teacher, and animal advocate with extensive animal handling experience.