Dear AKC: I have a two-year-old Golden Retriever who loves treats. I go to a meat market weekly for meats and wondered if real meat bones from a meat market are good for dogs to eat. -- Meats or Treats
Dear Meats: There are two schools of thought about whether or not dogs should be allowed to eat bones. One school says they always ate them in the wild and that there is no harm in eating them, provided they are raw. Another school says you should never give dogs any bones cooked, raw or otherwise as they cause more potential harm than good.
Raw Meaty Bones
Many people who feed their dogs a raw diet, sometimes called BARF (Bones and Raw Food) claim bones with meat and some fat left on them are safe for dogs because they are easily digestible and will not splinter like cooked bones. Some of the popular types of bones fed on the raw diet are beef tails or necks from poultry and are usually available from your local butcher. One disadvantage about raw bones is that they can carry bacteria like salmonella or e-coli and can spoil in a few days if not eaten.
Avoid any bones that are already cut into smaller pieces as they pose a more immediate choking hazard. Be aware that any bone may cause a digestive upset in a dog.
Cooked, brittle bones are more likely to splinter which may cause fractured teeth and possible perforation of the intestine or throat either on the way down or on the way back up if the dog vomits. Veterinarians also report dogs eating bones run the risk of needing surgery to remove obstructions in the intestines.
Any bone should only be given under supervision so you can monitor if the bone is breaking into dangerously small pieces and the take it away from your dog before any harm is done.