Our dog ate scraps from the dinner table when I was a child, including ham, beef, or pork chop bones. Even in the 1940’s and 1950’s, people knew better than to feed chicken bones to dogs but any other kind was manna from Heaven for our Chow. When I purchased my Harlequin Great Dane puppy from a well-known Kentucky breeder, she told me to be sure to ask the butcher for some knuckle bones for Ginny.
Now some experts say that all bones are bad for dogs because of the possibility of splintering and leaving sharp pieces to perforate a dog’s intestines. There is also the concern that a hunk of bone could get lodged in the animal’s esophagus or stomach. The question remains: Should we or shouldn’t we?
Dog bones serve a good purpose. They help clean food from the dog’s teeth and provide vitamins and minerals that might otherwise be missing from the animal’s diet.
However, those veterinarians opposed to bones – either raw or cooked – have valid reasons for their opinions. The FDA Animal Veterinary Division (www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumersUpdates/ucm208365.htm) offers the following reasons why you should think twice before offering bones to your dog:
- Broken teeth (Vet dentistry is expensive.)
- Mouth or tongue injuries (Messy and bloody)
- Bone pieces get stuck around the lower jaw. (Vet trip)
- Bone gets stuck in the esophagus. (Vet trip)
- Bone gets stuck in the stomach. (Expensive surgery)
- Bone gets stuck in the intestines. (Major blockages requiring surgery)
- Peritonitis (Nasty bacterial infection of the abdomen occurring when bone shards
puncture holes in dog’s stomach – surgery, possible death)
- Bone shards cause constipation (Severe pain, vet trip)
- Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (Severe and dangerous bleeding in rectum. Vet trip)
As a dog owner, you have to decide about the bone issue. Alternatives on the retail market include Nylabones, which come in several flavors and types and last quite awhile if you choose the Nylabone Original®. My Weimaraner and Bulldog are both strong chewers and as they wear off the ends of the Nylabone, I have to watch carefully and remove it before it comes small enough to be dangerous.
There are other safe products available that won’t splinter. My dogs love elk antlers, available in better pet stores. Again, I take them away when they become small enough to be a hazard.
Visit a reputable pet supplies retailer and talk to the staff about the best product for your pet. Your veterinarian is your best source of advice about the safety of real meat bones.