Give a Dog a Bone? Be Careful!

Ensure That Your Dog Chews the Right Type of Bone. There was a time when people didn’t give much thought to what, or how, they fed their dogs. Almost any kind of bone was tossed Fido’s way. Now that we’ve learned a lot about canine nutrition and safety, our word of advice about bones is: caution.

Bones are a good source of minerals and other nutrients and help satisfy your dog’s appetite. Chewing stimulates saliva enzymes and helps prevent plaque buildup on teeth and gum disease. And a dog chewing on a bone is less inclined to excessively scratch or lick his paws.

It’s critically important to avoid giving your dog the wrong kind of bone, however.

Poultry and pork bones, or cooked bones of any kind, are strictly forbidden. They splinter into shards that can cause choking and serious damage to the dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines.

Any bone, in fact, once chewed into small pieces, can block the intestines and lead to a nasty bout of constipation, can cause lacerations of the mouth and internal organs, or can lodge in the throat with fatal results.

If your dog is unaccustomed to chewing on bones, you should soften the bone by boiling it. After a few weeks, your dog should be ready for raw meat bones, which some veterinarians say are the best bones for a dog.

It’s best to give a bone to your dog after a meal. You don’t want your dog to ingest too much bone. Take it away after 10 to 15 minutes and place it in the refrigerator. Dispose of a bone after 3 or 4 days.

Large breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs, Bloodhounds and Mastiffs should be given large bones. Bones should be larger than the length of the dog’s muzzle so it will be impossible to swallow whole. A beef shank bone is a good example of the type of bone to give to a large dog.

Supervision is important. Periodically check on your dog when he’s chewing a bone.

Keep in mind that many experienced and knowledgeable vets disagree about bone-chewing and many advise owners to play it safe and only provide commercially-available chew toys and simulated bones that are made for dogs of all sizes.