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Should I allow my dog to chew bones?

Our Huntsville vets know that you want nothing but the best for your dog. But when you try to find out whether bones are a nutritious treat or a health hazard for dogs you are left baffled by the divided opinions. So today we look at the pros and cons of giving bones to dogs.

Are Bones Good For Your Dog's Health?

Bones can provide your pup with a number of essential minerals and other nutrients while also satisfying your dog's appetite. Not only that, chewing stimulates saliva enzymes, which aids in the prevention of plaque buildup and gum disease helping to keep your pup's mouth healthy. An added benefit of providing bones for your dog to chew on is that it may deter them from undesirable behaviors such as excessive scratching or licking. Nonetheless, many veterinarians warn that allowing your dog to chew on bones comes with some serious risks for your dog's health.

Can dogs eat bones safely?

So, what bones can dogs eat safely? Are bones good for dogs? Are cooked bones bad for dogs? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of giving bones to dogs in order to answer these questions and more.

The Pros of Giving Bones to Dogs

Many people point out that chewing bones is a natural pleasure that our canine companions have enjoyed for centuries, and there are certainly some benefits to this, including:

May Promote Good Dental Health - One of the main reasons people give bones to their dogs is to promote dental health. Gnawing on bones can help remove plaque and tartar buildup, preventing gum disease and promoting healthier teeth. The abrasive action of chewing on bones can act as a natural toothbrush for your dog.

Provides Mental Stimulation - Chewing on bones can provide mental stimulation and relieve boredom for dogs. It can be a natural and instinctive activity that keeps them occupied and entertained. Bones can be a great way to alleviate anxiety or redirect destructive chewing behaviors.

Has Some Nutritional Value - Bones can be a source of essential nutrients, especially if they are raw bones. They contain marrow, which is rich in fat and can provide dogs with additional calories. Bones also contain calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals that contribute to overall nutrition.

The Cons of Giving Bones to Dogs

Nonetheless, if you are planning to give your dog natural bones it's important to understand the very real health risks involved. Here are a few points to consider:

May Cause Dental Injuries - While bones can help maintain dental health, there is a risk of dental injuries associated with chewing on bones. Dogs may crack or fracture their teeth, leading to pain, infection, and the need for dental procedures. Hard bones like weight-bearing bones from large animals are particularly risky.

Can Lead To Choking or Obstructions - Bones, especially cooked bones, can splinter and break into sharp fragments, posing a choking hazard. These shards can also cause intestinal obstructions if swallowed, leading to a life-threatening emergency. Small dogs, aggressive chewers, or dogs prone to gulping are at higher risk.

Digestive Issues Can Result - Bones can cause digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or pancreatitis in some dogs. Fatty bones like marrow bones can lead to gastrointestinal upset, and sharp bone fragments can damage the digestive tract. Dogs with sensitive stomachs or a history of digestive issues should be monitored closely.

What should I give my dog to chew on?

In light of the risks involved in allowing your dog to chew on bones, you may be wondering what a safe alternative to dog bones may be. Here are a few suggestions: 

Raw Bones - If you choose to give bones to your dog, consider raw bones instead of cooked options. Raw bones are less likely to splinter and cause injuries. Always supervise your dog while they chew on any type of bone.

Synthetic Chews - There are plenty of safe synthetic chew toys available in the market. These products are designed to be durable, non-toxic, and less likely to cause dental or digestive issues. Look for options like rubber chew toys, nylon bones, or specially designed dental chews.

Vet-Approved Treats - Consult with your veterinarian to find appropriate treats that promote dental health and are safe for your dog's specific needs. Dental chews or treats specially formulated to support oral hygiene can be a safer alternative to bones.

How can I decide what to do?

When it comes to providing your dog with bones to chew on, the safety aspect is a crucial consideration. While bones can provide benefits such as dental health, mental stimulation, and nutritional value, they also come with significant risks. Dental injuries, choking hazards, and digestive issues are potential concerns that shouldn't be overlooked.

As a responsible pet owner, it's essential to weigh the potential benefits against the risks and make an informed decision. Ultimately, consulting with your veterinarian is crucial in determining whether giving bones to your dog is safe and appropriate for their individual circumstances. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about the safety of providing your dog with bones to chew on? Contact Whitesburg Animal Hospital to book an appointment for your pup. Our Huntsville vets are here to help you provide your pet with the very best care.

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Whitesburg Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Huntsville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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