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New puppy owners often have questions about what they should feed their pups. One of the most common questions we get asked is “Can my dog eat leftover steak bones?”

There is some debate from the experts about whether or not dogs should be allowed to eat bones. One view is that dogs ate bones in the wild and there is no harm to the animal eating them, provided they are raw.

The other view point believes you should never give dogs any bones cooked, raw or otherwise, as they could potentially cause more 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. Why? 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.

Golden Retriever with a bone head portrait on a white background.
©Mat Hayward -

Cooked Bones

Cooked, brittle bones are more likely to splinter. This 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.

If this happens you can ask the dog for the rest of the bone (because you’ve already taught them the “give” command, right?). Finding an alternative to a potentially hazardous situation is always in your pet’s best interest rather than leaving it to chance. If your dog gets into difficulty while eating, we recommend taking them to your local vet as soon as possible.

Related article: Can Dogs Eat Pork Bones?
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