There are times when you find your dog chewing on a bone for hours. You probably think to yourself, “What’s so good about that?” Otherwise, you may be a bit worried if they somehow manage to break the bones and swallow some of it. Will that be okay? Actually, can dogs eat bones? Here’s all you need to know about dogs and their bones.
- Why Do Dogs Like Bones?
- Are Bones Good for Dogs?
- Enhance Skin and Coat
- Improve Dental Health
- Maintain Bone Density
- Provide Energy
- Give Mental Stimulation
- What Bones Can Dogs Eat?
- Chicken Bones
- Beef Bones
- Pork Bones
- Turkey Bones
- Lamb Bones
- Cooked Bones for Dogs – Raw Bones for Dogs
- Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
- What are the Tips to Feed Bones to Dogs?
- Select the Bones Carefully
- Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Health Conditions
- Try Making Bone Broth
- Find Other Alternatives
Why Do Dogs Like Bones?
In general, dogs have a natural attachment to chewing on things. When you don’t find your pet chewing on your shoes, you probably will find him or her hovering over the table legs and leaving scratches there with their teeth. It’s also the same with bones.
Their fascination with bones is traceable to their ancestors in the past, like wolves or ancient canine species. Million years ago, these dogs lived and hunted their prey in packs, which means that they weren’t only strong but also big eaters. Labeled “hypercarnivores” by experts, these ancient canines were said to eat more than 70% meat, which in turn led them to develop strong jaws and sets of teeth to accommodate the size of their large prey.
With these traits passed down to modern dogs we know today, it’s no wonder that it’s in their instinct to bite and chew on bones, no matter how hard it is. Besides, domesticated dogs don’t hunt prey anymore. It’s why chewing on bones can also be pleasurable for them and make them fond of it.
Are Bones Good for Dogs?
Is there any importance or benefit of gnawing on bones for our furry friends? When picked and appropriately given, bones can present numerous advantages for dogs as either a raw diet or an addition to any diet.
Note the word “raw” above. With that in mind, it’s highly essential to feed raw bones and NOT the cooked ones to your dog. Raw bones provide many nutrients ranging from minerals, protein, fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and even energy.
Enhance Skin and Coat
In terms of benefiting your dog’s coat and skin health, the marrow and cartilage in bones have long been excellent sources of collagen. The marrow, in particular, consists of iron and copper that are important to blood production. The bones will be much better when they still have connective tissues attached, as those components also provide many nutrients.
Improve Dental Health
Speaking of chewing, this activity is actually an integral part of dental care—either for dogs or any other pets. With a series of crunching and scratching, your dog naturally “brushes” and “flosses” their teeth, as well as “massages” their gums.
As far as dental care routine for your dog goes, adding bone chewing to his or her series of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and healthy meal intake can be both beneficial and money-saving. The remaining raw meat on the bones has enzymes to fight bacteria, while the bones and connective tissues attached can decrease the risk of plaque build-up once stimulated with saliva enzymes.
Not to mention, the sinewy structure of bones can inadvertently break tartar down—hence cleaning their teeth and maintaining the health of your dog’s oral condition by preventing gum disease.
If you think about it, the ancestors of your dog didn’t even have proper dental care routines like today. They obviously never brushed their teeth! To keep their teeth and gum healthy and robust, their ancestors relied on things around them, which included bones from their prey.
Maintain Bone Density
Bones also contain minerals like phosphorus and calcium, which are vital to bone structure. With raw bones being living tissue, these minerals can promote healthier bone conditions in dogs. Chewing bones can more benefit lactating moms and puppies, but it really depends on their diet or mineral supplements.
In general, calcium contributes to more than merely bone structures in dogs. When fed in moderate amounts and frequencies, calcium can also be essential for muscle contraction, digestive system, and blood coagulation. This component can improve your dog’s heart and vision significantly as well.
Bones also contain plenty of high-quality protein like the essential amino acids, in the sense that it isn’t extracted one. There are also many fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E, as well as fatty acids like Omega 6. With these proteins, vitamins, and fat significantly forming raw bones, your dog can get additional energy as well.
Give Mental Stimulation
You’re probably quite busy during weekdays with work or school. Inevitably, dogs are sometimes bored without their owners, and they need something to keep them happy. This is where bones play a significant role! Added with the fact that dogs love to chew, tossing them a raw bone helps to keep them both mentally and physically occupied.
It’s important to acknowledge that dog owners often underestimate the importance of mental health in dogs. The anxiety or restless feeling your dog experiences when you’re not home can actually lead to heart issues and high blood pressure. Giving dogs raw bones to chew on at least diverts those feelings and keeps them distracted. This way, you also can make sure not to find your chair legs or shoes eaten by the end of the day.
What Bones Can Dogs Eat?
So, can dogs eat bones? What bones are okay for dogs? Are all bones okay?
To simply conclude, you can give raw, edible bones to your dog. Raw bones don’t break and splinter, which is why you should avoid cooked ones at all costs! Once you put a bone to heat, it’ll dry out and cause brittles, one primary reason that leads dogs to choke when eating.
Edible bones, in particular, mostly can’t be fed as it is. Bones from chickens or turkey can be too small and soft. The trick to solve this issue is to grind these bones up in a blender before pouring them to the dog’s meal.
Some might even argue that dogs can’t even digest bone at all. In reality, this situation depends on the dogs’ health condition—especially the stomach. Dogs, in general, have acidic stomach pH. But some develop a more acidic stomach environment when their owners have introduced and incorporated raw bones to their diet.
Since bones require a highly acidic environment to break down, dogs that are regularly fed with raw bones can digest them more efficiently and quickly as well. If your dog is mostly or always kibble-fed, owners should begin with tinier, softer bones, as an introduction.
There are ongoing debates between experts and professionals about whether both raw and cooked chicken bones are safe for dogs. In general, many pets actually enjoy chewing on raw parts of chicken or turkeys like wings and necks. These parts are usually free of salmonella and other bacteria. However, the sharp and small structures of chicken bones can choke your dog and harm his or her gut and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Chicken bones that are cooked, on the other hand, are even more dangerous to dogs. Their glass-like structures after being cooked up undeniably break into pointy splinters after chewed.
Can dogs eat beef bones then? Considering that beef bones are larger than chicken bones, many have frequently asked this particular question. While there are still concerns about bone fragments and breakage, beef bones are pretty acceptable as long as they’re large enough.
With that in mind, that’s why size matters. Beef bones are naturally tougher than most other types of animal bones. When you combine this feature with the large size of bones, it decreases the possibility of your dog breaking the bones down and getting harmed during the chewing process. It’s also why raw beef knucklebones make for similarly safe as well as delicious treats.
Can dogs eat pork bones? It turns out, pork bones for dogs is a resounding no at all cost, even if it’s raw and big. Porkchop, pork ribs, and ham bones are all harmful and present adverse health effects to dogs since they can easily splinter and crack when chewed. Besides, most pork bones are quite small, and dogs can also easily swallow them.
Like chicken bones, turkey bones tend to splinter easily, whether cooked or not. Turkey and chickens indeed belong in poultry families, and it’s no surprise if their bone structures brittle and break apart similarly.
With a similar structure and density like beef bones, lamb bones are pretty safe to consume for dogs as long as you follow the same rules as beef bones.
Cooked Bones for Dogs – Raw Bones for Dogs
From all of the warnings above about cooked bones for dogs, you probably have got the gist of cooked vs. raw bones for dogs.
Besides the possibility of breakage and splinters, cooked bones also have the potential to remove the fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E inside. When not properly chewed and swallowed, cooked bones can lead dogs to:
- Mouth or tongue injuries
- Broken teeth
- Esophagus or windpipe blockage
- Gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues
- Stomachache, which can lead to peritonitis, a bacterial infection of the abdomen
- Rectal bleeding
Meanwhile, raw bones also don’t mean that they’re entirely safe for your dog either. It’s crucial to select and prepare the bones properly so that there’s no issue after chewing or digesting it.
Can Dogs Eat Chicken Bones?
Chicken is usually more accessible than other types of poultries and livestock, which is why it’s more likely for pet owners to consider giving their pets chicken bones. While we have stressed that there are ongoing debates for it, there’s a part of a chicken that actually is pretty safe to consume—with precautions: chicken feet.
Think of chicken feet as the toothpick or toothbrush for dogs, but with nutrients. The tiny bones that make up the chicken feet are primarily made up of cartilage, connective tissue, and skin, which are also easily digestible.
Moreover, feeding dogs raw (or otherwise dehydrated/dried) chicken bones are also safe enough thanks to their softer texture and plenty of cartilage. Compared to other parts of chicken bones—either raw or cooked—this smooth texture won’t break into separate pointy pieces that’ll end up harming your dog.
As a toothpick or toothbrush, chicken bones can reach the back of your dog’s mouth and then scrape away the remaining food residue or plaque. Meanwhile, the high level of chondroitin and glucosamine can promote your dog’s mobility and joint health once digested. Therefore, instead of chicken body bones, try chicken feet instead.
What are the Tips to Feed Bones to Dogs?
If you’re considering starting giving your dog a raw bone to chew on or eat, here are some tips and rules to follow so that they can enjoy it safely.
Before you’re sure of leaving dogs with raw bones, make sure to supervise them first to check whether they are prone to choke or get injured from biting off too much. Therefore, you can set times for them to chew on bones for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Moreover, toss them bones after they have their meal. Besides reducing the likelihood of injury, they’re also not too hungry to chew and swallow the bones excessively.
Select the Bones Carefully
Brittle parts of bones can pose splintering issues when your dog chews on them. Furthermore, gnawed-down bones can lead to a choking problem. Make sure to throw out those gnawed-down ones, along with ones you have refrigerated when not in use. After three days, bones are most likely to be contaminated already, which can be dangerous if you still feed them to your dog.
Regarding the size of the bones, prepare bones that your dog cannot swallow whole. The trick is to find ones that are longer than their muzzle length. It can also depend on your dog’s size. A large dog breed shouldn’t be fed with a small bone, for instance.
Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Health Conditions
Puppies and senior dogs, as well as dogs who have undergone restorative dental work, shouldn’t be fed with hard bones as they’re prone to dental problems and tooth breakage. Dogs who suffer from health conditions like pancreatitis should also avoid chewing on bones since the generous level of fat in the marrow can cause a flare-up or diarrhea.
Moreover, overweight dogs aren’t compatible with bones since the energy produced by the fat and protein inside can be too much for them. The same goes for dogs on a low protein diet, too.
Try Making Bone Broth
It’s understandable if you don’t want to put your dog at risk from bones, even if you have discovered the safest ways and options to feed them to your dog. You can instead try to “extract” the nutritious benefits from bones with this tasty bone broth recipe:
- Step 1: Prepare the Bones
Prepare your crockpot and fill it with bones of your choice, but make sure to choose ones with a lot of joints in them to make the broth healthier. Leftover bones from your meals can also be used for this.
- Step 2: Add Vinegar and Water
Depending on the amount of the bones inside the pot, you can then fill water until they’re completely covered. Leave an extra three inches of water on top. For the vinegar, you can pour about three or four tablespoons of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar into the mixture.
- Step 3: Cook
Set the stove heat on high for an hour before turning it down to low and leave it simmering for the next 24 hours. By the end of the cooking process, you’ll expect a jelly-like consistency, which means that there are many gelatins in there.
- Step 4: Strain the Bones
With the bones fully cooked, you need to completely discard them so that your dog won’t accidentally bite into them. Try not to throw the bones in the trash bin, because your dog can somehow claw his or her way onto it.
- Step 5: Let It Cool
Put the broth in the fridge once it’s cooled down. Before serving it to your dog, make sure to chip the excess layer of fat on top of it and toss it away. The broth can be stored for up to five days.
Find Other Alternatives
There are many durable chew toys designed to be an alternative to bones. Some even come with a specific flavor, although it certainly means the use of chemicals. Try to purchase flavorless toys to stay in the safe lane. Moreover, train your dog not to swallow the toys and act fast when you encounter a problem after introducing the new toys.
There you go, all the information you need to know to answer the central question: can dogs eat bones? Well, yes, but with precautions. For a more accurate and reliable answer, you should bring your dog to the vet, get him or her examined first, and consult your vet about the best ways to feed bones to your dog. It’s best to work together with your vet to decide what’s best for your dog.