November 25, 2015 | Erin | 16 Comments It Never Hurt My Dog Before… When I was growing up, we gave our dogs leftover bones and never asked, Is this safe for my pet? Our grandparents did it too, so what is the big deal? We all know that look that our dogs give us when they want something, especially when that something is meat and comes on a bone. That look is hopeful and one that tends to incite sympathy. Behavior becomes exemplary and they demonstrate what absolute control they have over the excitement that is threatening to take over their bodies. This behavior is-just -so-darn-cute but the decision to give your dog a bone or not should not be made lightly. Today we know that dogs and bones combined can result in the need for emergency veterinarian care or even death. Considering that the holidays are quickly approaching, I felt that this is a good time to talk about safety when you choose to give bones to your dogs. Generally speaking, the bones that are given to dogs have been cooked. Cooked bones become brittle from the cooking process and are more likely to “splinter” and cause internal injury to your family pet. It is known that a dog benefits from the marrow in a bone, but we also know that cooking actually removes these nutrients. What Can Go Wrong Bones can get lodged in a dogs windpipe, stomach, intestines or esophagus Bones can cause injury to the dogs mouth or tongue Bone fragments can cause bleeding from the rectum or constipation Peritonitis is a bacterial infection that can be caused by bone fragments poking holes in a dogs’ stomach or intestines So What Bones Can I Give My Dog? Raw, uncooked bones can be a safe option for your dog if certain guidelines are established. A dog in it’s natural habitat would consume all of it’s prey and a dog’s ancestors have always eaten bones. A dog loves the taste of a bone and the act of chewing provides mental stimulation and great chewing exercise. Raw bones from birds are hollow and soft. They do not contain marrow but if ran through a meat grinder, can be a good source of calcium and minerals if you feed your dog a raw diet. Bones that are safe for chewing purposes are considered “recreational” and would include chunks of beef or bison hip or femur bones. These bones are not designed for a dogs consumption, but rather to be gnawed. They are great for providing that mental stimulation and are good for a dog’s oral health. A meaty bone with cartilage attached mimics for your dog a good tooth brushing and flossing and it helps reduce tartar. How Do I Give My Dog A Bone? Always, always, always supervise you dog when he has a bone. When a bone has been reduced to a small chunk, you will want to take it from him in order to prevent swallowing what remains If you have more that one dog, separate them before giving them bones to avoid any fighting Raw bones can become quite greasy so offer a bone outdoors or in a create or on washable surface Do not give bones to any dog that has dental crowns or to a dog that is prone to pancreatitis – the raw marrow can cause diarrhea and the pancreatitis to flare Do not provide a bone for a dog that is likely to swallow the bone whole or to try to eat it in a couple of bites. Avoid offering your dog small bones or bones that have been cut as they are more likely to splinter Don’t feed a dog pork or rib bones as they are prone to splintering There is an alternative available to raw bones, the dental bone. It can help control tartar and provide the chewing exercise that is so important and instinctual for your dog. Make sure to purchase a good quality bone that is 100% natural and contains no additives or animal byproducts. What is safe for your pet can include bones and we have seen that they can provide excellent chewing exercise and dental care the way that nature intended.