At tails.com we often get asked whether it is safe or beneficial to feed bones to dogs. These are two separate questions. The simple answer to whether feeding bones is safe is no, as there can be many complications and dangers when feeding both raw and cooked bones:
- Raw bones can spoil and carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli that can lead to gastroenteritis as well as being a human health hazard in the family home.
- Bone fragments, both raw and cooked, can splinter or be swallowed in large chunks leading to serious consequences like blockage of the stomach and intestines, severe constipation, internal bleeding and even perforation of the gut which would require lifesaving surgery.
- Chewing bones on a regular basis can lead to chipped teeth and tooth root abscesses.
- Choking injuries and bone fragments lodging in the mouth causing pain and infection are also a risk.
In regards to feeding bones being beneficial, although the bone itself is extremely high in mineral content such as calcium and phosphorus, these are found in sufficient quantities in most available dog food. It is the other meaty components such as fat, cartilage, muscle and connective tissue attached to bones which provide any significant nutritional value.
The mental stimulation and enjoyment factors as well as time occupied with chewing bones can be seen as beneficial, but these effects can just as easily and certainly more safely be provided by chew and puzzle toys containing food. Similarly, the dental cleaning action of chewing bones can be provided by appropriate chew toys and dental chews such as our tails.com Dental Dailies.
Even if we take into account all the assumed benefits of feeding bones to our dogs, with the small chance of serious complications our advice at tails.com is to find a safer alternative. The old saying “give the dog a bone” may not be the best advice after all.