Bones: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

You’ve heard the expression: “Give a dog a bone.” Seems this slice of canine wisdom is now in question. In fact, the debate is growing about whether bones are healthy for dogs or not. What side of the fence do you sit on?

Throw Him a Bone

Some dog owners believe letting dogs chew on bones is good for them, and a welcome alternative to having them chew on carpets, toys and shoes. What are some other pro-bone arguments?

  • They’re natural: Raw bones are good for your dog because they’re completely natural. Some people argue they help your dog strengthen his teeth and leave them extra clean. Which bring us to the next point…
  • They clean teeth: Some owners love to give their dog bones because they help to prevent plaque and tartar build-up. Both of these oral problems can lead to periodontal disease and a slew of other related health problems.
  • They’re nutritious: Some people argue meaty bones provide dogs with necessary minerals and protein. All things will keep your dog healthy and strong.
  • They help with chewing problems: Some owners believe in letting their puppy chew on bones during his chewing phase. This gives a puppy something other than shoes, table legs and cushions to chew on.

Throw Out the Bone

Most veterinarians and other owners feel the negative aspects of allowing a dog to chew on bones outweigh the positive. What are the anti-bone arguments?

  • They’re choking hazards: Small bones can get stuck in a dog’s throat causing him to choke. This often happens when dogs chew on chicken and pork bones. That’s because these bones have sharp edges and chip easily. This can also occur when a dog swallows a round steak bone.
  • Bones can also become lodged in a dog’s mouth and around their lower jaw. This is often seen with rib and round steak bones.
  • They chip teeth: Raw bones are incredibly hard and can chip a dog’s tooth as he chews. Broken teeth can be painful and become infected.
  • They cause digestive problems: Some bones can obstruct the stomach and intestines. Surgery is often required in these cases. They can also cause severe illness and digestive difficulties. This is especially common with raw bones.
  • They can be unhealthy: Salmonella poisoning becomes a risk when handling or ingesting certain raw foods. This is the case with raw meat bones. People who handle bones may get salmonella poisoning, and although not common in dogs, Salmonella could poison your dog if eaten.
  • They’re not nutritious: Turns out the minerals and nutrients people think their dog is getting from a bone, actually comes from the meat and cartilage attached to the bone. Dogs can get all these nutrients from dog food. You also want to be careful your dog is not getting too much protein – this can be bad for his health.

Whatever side of the debate you’re leaning towards make sure you consult your veterinarian. And always supervise your dog when he is chewing any treat.

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