Can Dogs Digest Bones? Surprisingly, No. Here’s Why!

Can Dogs Digest Bones? Surprisingly, No. Here’s Why!

Most dogs seem to love chewing on bones. Bones are good sources of minerals and other nutrients that help maintain your dog’s health. The act of chewing also prevents plaque buildup and dental problems. Your dog is also less likely to excessively scratch and hurt themselves if they have a bone to chew on. But what if your dog swallows a whole bone while they’re chomping on it? Can dogs digest bones safely?

The answer is somewhat complicated. Some dogs seem to be able to digest bones without any trouble, while others will become sick as a result. It mostly just depends on your dog’s size and the size of the bone they’ve swallowed. While one kind of bone can be a delicious treat, others could be a tragedy for your dog’s digestive system and could lead to choking, intestinal blockage, and other dangerous situations.

For a more in-depth look at how eating bones can be dangerous for your dog and how you can safely let your dog eat bones, continue reading this article.

Can Dogs Eat Bones?

Your dog would probably love to get a few bones off your plate. But is it really safe to do so? Contrary to popular belief, bones aren’t actually safe for dogs.

While it may seem weird, bones are actually a high-risk snack for dogs. They can easily lead to choking, fractured teeth, internal lacerations, intestinal blockage, and several other complications. Most vets even advise against feeding bones to your dog because the risks outweigh the few moments of joy when your dog is happily wagging the chewing on the bone you gave them.

That said, it doesn’t mean that dogs can’t eat bones at all; they can properly digest some bones. Although bones can cause some serious complications, as long as you educate yourself on the risks and learn ways to properly prepare the bones first, you can safely let your pooch enjoy bones.

What Are the Risks of Feeding Bones To Your Dog?

Choking isn’t the only risk bones pose to dogs. Feeding your dog the wrong type of bones could lead to the following complications:

  • Breaking of teeth.
  • Mouth and tongue injuries
  • Bones stuck around the lower part of the jaw
  • Windpipe and gastrointestinal blockage
  • Constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Punctures in the stomach or intestines
  • Peritonitis
  • Bacterial contamination

Which Bones Can Your Dog Digest?

As previously mentioned, dogs can only digest some bones. Not all bones are similar in structure and composition. Some bones crumble when chewed on and are perfectly safe for canine consumption. Many bones found in birds fall under this category as they are thin and easy to break. On the other hand, some bones fracture when chewed on, which leads to the formation of razor-sharp edges that can cause harm to your dog’s digestive system.

Some other factors that determine what bones are good or bad for your dog are:

  • The size of the bone
  • The type of the bone
  • The size and health of your dog
  • Your dog’s tendency to chew food
  • The condition of your dog’s teeth

Having to consider all these factors may confuse you. If you do wish to feed your dog some bones, don’t fret and just go for fresh, raw bones. They are bendy and springy and are less likely to break in your dog’s mouth, making them relatively safe. Avoid large, dense, and long bones like leg bones or ribs as well. However, the risk of choking still exists if your dog is small or if they don’t chew properly before swallowing.

How to Feed Your Dog Bones

If you have figured out the perfect type of bones that you can feed to your pooch, here are some safety guidelines you can follow to avoid any possible complications:

  • Don’t leave your dog to chew a bone alone. Supervise them as they chew to prevent choking hazards.
  • If your dog splinters the bone while chewing,throw away the small pieces as they may pierce your dog’s digestive tracts.
  • Do not give bones to a dog that has a high risk of tooth breakage and dental problems.
  • Dogs with Pancreatitis should avoid fatty bones. Fatty bones may induce diarrhea.
  • Give your dog a bone after a meal. They swallow the bone quickly rather than chewing it when they’re full.
  • Avoid bones like pork and rib bones which are likely to splinter.

Are Bones Beneficial for Dogs?

Raw bones can be a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals. They can also provide benefits to your dog’s digestive system, like strengthening the stomach muscles, promoting healthy bowel movements, and preventing bloat.

At the same time, chewing is a normal and essential trait in canines. Chewing on bones can act like a brush and floss for a dog’s teeth. The tartar breaks down and reduces the gum condition and cleanses the teeth. Chewing also activates the production of saliva enzymes that prevents plaque formation. Pooches who chew on bones are also less prone to excessively scratching or licking their paws.

What To Do If Your Dog Has Swallowed A Bone?

If you gave your dog a bone to gnaw on for a while but they swallowed a chunk of it, there’s not much you can do personally. First of all, calm down and don’t panic. Most of the time the bone passes and your dog can digest it without any trouble. Observe your dog for a few hours and check for the following symptoms:

  • Extreme stress
  • Pain
  • Rubbing their face or neck on the ground
  • Increased saliva production
  • Attempts to vomit
  • Gagging
  • Inappetence
  • Intestinal upset
  • Lack of stool production or bloody stools

If the symptoms persist for some time, contact your vet immediately and follow their advice.

Is It Necessary To Give Your Dog Bones?

After learning about the risks of feeding bones to your dogs, you might want to keep your pooch away from them. If so, don’t worry, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Wild canines and wolves are believed to eat bones because the marrow is over 50% fat, which could be a valuable resource during the winter or at times when there isn’t a lot of prey around. Domesticated dogs don’t need that as your pooch has you to take care of them and feed them a balanced diet. So no, dogs don’t necessarily need bones.

As for the benefits provided by bones, brushing your dog’s teeth is a much safer way to keep their dental health in check, and chew toys can satisfy your pup’s desire to chew.

Can Dogs Digest Cooked Bones?

No, cooked bones are extremely dangerous for your dog. The reason for this is that cooking bones make them brittle and prone to breaking into sharp shards that could hurt your dog’s digestive tract. This includes table scraps and store-bought smoked or baked bone treats.

Are Commercial Bone Treats Safe For Your Dog?

Bone treats are different from bones in the aspect that they are processed and packaged. However, feeding these treats poses risks that are similar to feeding your dog bones: choking, intestinal obstruction, oral wounds, etc. So giving your dog a bone treat to chew on isn’t safe as doing so could lead to an unexpected trip to the vet or even the death of your pooch.


So yes, dogs can digest bones, although it’s not really safe for them to eat bones. If your dog swallows a bone that’s too large for them or a sharp shard of it, it could lead to some severe problems with their digestive tract. This is why most owners prefer not to feed bones to their dogs. Remember to consult your vet before feeding your pooch bones or any other human food.

Thank you for reading the article.

Does your pup love bones? Did you know about the risks of giving bones to dogs? We would love to know. Please share with us your experience by leaving a comment below!

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