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 esophagusDSCN6350
  • 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 fightingdog-with-a-bone-1339936
  • 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.


16 comments on “No Bones About It – When A Bone May or May Not Be Not Safe For Your Pet

  • I haven’t ever given my dog a bone because I had heard that bones aren’t always safe for dogs. So thank you for this article! It’s good to know what are the safe bones to give dogs.

    Dental bones sound like a good choice for my dog. Can they be used to replace brushing my dog’s teeth, or is it just a supplement to tooth-brushing?

    • Hi Samantha,

      Dental bones can be given to your dog in addition to brushing their teeth. Think of them as an alternative to real bones. They provide your dog exercise and help control tartar, but they are not intended to replace teeth brushing.

      Take Care,


  • We have a lot of dogs and cats. At various times we will make homemade food for them and include bone meal in the recipe. Occasionally, the black labs will catch a squirrel and I worry about the little bones but so far they have not had a problem. The cats sometimes catch a bird and so far no problem there either.

    However, about 15 years ago, I discovered a friend’s small terrier was suffering abdominal pain and took it to the vet. The little dog had eaten a chicken bone and the bone had pierced its intestines causing an abscess. Fortunately, we caught it in time and the little dog survived after some very expensive surgery, but it easily could have killed him.

    • Hi, Thanks for reading my post and how scary for your friend and the little Terrier! I am so glad the pup was ok, but what an expensive lesson in the danger that bones can be.

      Take Care,


  • I have a bone to pick with you. Just Kidding! This information is vital to the well being of our beloved dogs and should really be taken seriously by their owners.

    I remember growing up and the only thing I was informed was not to give our dogs chicken bones but according to your information there is quite a bit more to it then that.

    If and when I am able to obtain a loving dog once again, in order to avoid from having to supervise over him or her while they consume their tasty treat I will invest in some “Scooby Snacks” instead, if they still exist.

  • Hi Erin,

    what a great and informative article about bone feeding. I have 6 rescue dogs who are now my personal pack and we raw feed. But there are so many misguided ways of bone feeding that is out there. I am glad you took the time to write this.

    We only now bone feed once a week and we use a grinder to ensure they are able to have bone in their meals too. My pitbull in particular loves pork bone and we were feeding this to him raw at one stage not knowing the potential effects. Now he only gets it grinded 🙂

    Great to have these need to know articles out there

    • Hi Layne,I would also like to

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my article and to share your experience with feeding your dogs bones. I agree that there are so many misconceptions out there that I felt it was important information to share. I would also like to thank you for taking 6 rescue dogs into your life!

      Take Care,


  • Love the page. I totally agree with what you have written. Personally I don’t chance bones anymore. Its a very unique and interesting topic. Anything to do with animals makes me soft anyways. I am an animal lover. They are our fur babies. Very direct, no mess, to the point post. Very neat and tidy. Easy to navigate. Even made me feel good reading the comments people have left.

  • This is great. I personally don’t give my dog real bones. I just get kinda nervous about them and my besenji has an intestinal disorder that I’m always extra cautious about what she consumes. I usually go to the nylabones for everyday chewing and bully sticks for special days.

    But thank you for the advice. I’ve gathered more knowledge know so if I ever do want to try it out at least for my pitbull, I know what to do. Thank you again.

    • Hi Genevieve,

      Thanks for your comments and I am glad that you found the information useful. Personally, I am glad that bones are not completely unsafe. To me an occasional bone is a special treat, a salute if you will, one that our dogs’ ancestors also enjoyed.

      Take Care,


  • This is great. I was never sure what kind of bone my dog could have so I just never get them to her. It’s nice to have it all laid out here. With the raw bones. Do you just cut the meat off? What kind of raw bone is best?(beef, ham, etc) and they can’t get sick from the raw meat?

    • Hi Kayla,

      Make sure to give your dog a fresh bone to avoid any possible illness. Hip or femur bones of beef or bison are good examples, with most meat removed, to give your dog.

      Take Care,


  • This is really informative, there is a lot of important facts and information included.

    I have a small dog and he tends to eat almost anything. As a rule of thumb, we usually avoid giving him any bones at all for the reasons you mentioned.

    I have never seen these dental bones before so will perhaps consider these in the future.

    • Hi Craig,

      Thanks for reading and for your comments. I believe that your small dog is like most dogs in that they will eat anything. To keep our dogs safe, we have to be aware of what is and isn’t safe for them.

      Take Care,


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