Give The Dog A Bone? Make Sure It Safe!
‘Throwing your dog a bone’ can become much more problematic than the phrase suggests. The idea that your pet can indulge in your leftover rib bone from dinner may seem like a harmless, doting gesture and a tempting one, especially when their hopeful faces look up at you so eagerly. However, we will examine and consider the truths that suggest you could, in fact, be putting your precious pooch in danger.
Whether the bone is cooked or served raw, there are possible dangers involved in sharing rib bones with your dog that you may find are not worth taking. Let’s first take a look at the potential risks.
Dangers Of Giving Rib Bones To Dogs
Before you decide to give something to your four-legged friend, bear in mind that pork rib bones, for example, can splinter into shards and can cause your dog to choke. This may also trigger serious damage to your dog’s mouth, throat or intestines.
According to the US Food and Drugs Administration (FSA), pet owners and veterinarians have reported the following illnesses in dogs that have eaten bone treats:
- Gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract)
- Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
- Bleeding from the rectum
Whilst cooked bones are more likely to splinter, raw bones are also considered dangerous and, in addition to breaking into small pieces, are more likely to be coated with salmonella and bacteria.
Guidelines For Feeding Ribs And Bones Safely
- Do supervise your dog closely. That way you can react immediately if your canine chokes, or if you notice any blood on the bone or around your dog’s mouth from over aggressive gnawing.
- Do separate dogs before feeding bones, if you are lucky to have more than one hairy companion. Dogs can be quite territorial about bones and some dogs will fight over them.
- Do feed fresh raw ribs and bones in your dog’s crate, on a towel or on another surface you can clean easily. Fresh raw bones become a gooey, greasy mess until your dog has gnawed them clean.
- Don’t give them to a dog that has had restorative dental work/crowns.
- Don’t give them to your dog if they have a predisposition to pancreatitis. Raw bone marrow is very rich and can cause diarrhoea and a flare-up of pancreatitis.
- Don’t give a bone to a dog that’s likely to try to swallow it whole or bite it in two and eat it in huge chunks.
Trust that you know your dog well and have the confidence to make the call for yourself. From personal experience, the last point resonates all too well.
My eight month old Shiba Inu tried to swallow the entire bone the first time I put one in front of him and almost choked to death. He bit the bone in two and tried to eat both halves whole. Therefore, over time, I have trained him to chew smaller femur bones less aggressively by watching and intervening persistently.
I recommend giving your dog a bone to chew after a meal. Hungry dogs are more tempted to swallow a bone whole or break it apart and swallow large chunks. This increases the risk of an obstruction in the digestive tract.
Safe Alternatives For Dogs
There’s no reason to put your dog’s health at risk unnecessarily when there are other fantastic chewing alternatives out there for your pampered pet. Therefore, if in doubt, here are a few substitutes you could make for your dog to chomp down on.
One of the most popular alternatives to a traditional bone or rib is bully sticks. These are made from pure beef so are calorie dense and highly digestible. Some dog owners are put off by the fact that these are dried bull penises but I can assure you that your dog won’t mind at all!
Nylabone Dura Chews are a synthetic dog chew which, as the name suggests, are made from nylon. They are available in a range of sizes to match the needs of your dog and will of course, last a very long time. An additional benefit is these chews create little (if any) mess.
Antler dog chews are normally sourced from either elk or deer and approximately 4 to 10 inches in size. These are an excellent source of calcium, zinc, manganese and potassium and are not greasy like some other dog chews. Elk horns are especially suited to large aggressive chewers.
Kong toys for dogs have been on the market for well over 30 years. They are made from a tough puncture proof rubber and are incredibly durable. Added bonus – their hollow insides can be filled with your dog’s favourite filling such as peanut butter or even ice cream!
I know these conjure up a hugely unappetizing image in your mind, but chewing on chicken feet is a great, healthy alternative for small dogs and puppies. Pick some up from the local butcher.
The onus is ultimately on you to put your pet’s safety first. If the risks we have outlined here of giving ribs and general bones to your dog are too alarming, there are an abundance of other options that will deliver the same benefits and enjoyment.
Whether you decide to opt for raw bones, a synthetic chew toy, or even chicken feet, the important thing to remember is that your canine family member is designed to chew and it is crucial for their jaw exercise and overall stimulus.