Can Dogs Digest Bones? Ultimate Guide for a Safe Bone Treat

Can dogs digest bones

The matter of feeding bones to dogs is still controversial. You’ve learned that dogs like to chew on bones. You might also have read somewhere on the internet that bones are toxic to dogs. Which one would you believe? Can dogs digest bones?

Yes, Dogs can digest bones. But just like dogs come in different shapes and sizes, bones are also of different shapes and sizes. Each breed of dogs has a specific function, every bone in living animals has its own function. While one kind of bone can be a delicious treat, others could be a tragedy for your dog’s digestive system.


Can Dogs Digest Bones? The History of Dogs and Bones

Photo credit: Pet Palace
Photo credit: Pet Palace

The answer is, yes and no. Dogs and their ancestors, wolves, both have a similar pattern of eating. They both are content with large chunks of meat, fats, and bones. In the wild, both dogs and wolves needed fat to keep themselves warm during winter. The bone marrow consists of more than 50% fat. Both dogs and wolves with sharp teeth and jaw could tear the bone and grind in to the marrow of their prey.

But domesticated dogs don’t follow the same traits. Smaller breeds that our dogs belong to will have difficulties while eating and digesting bones. The current diet that dog owners provide their dogs also has a huge role. For example, a pet dog has pH 2.5 stomach acid whereas raw fed canines have a pH of around 1.5. Lower the pH value, higher the stomach acidity, and easier the digestion is.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Bones?

Dogs love to finish and neat up leftovers. Cooked bones from the leftovers, however, may cause problems in your dog’s digestive system. So it’s not the best idea to give your dog cooked bones. Cooked bones can easily fragment and splinter causing complications like:

  • 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 stomach or intestines
  • Peritonitis– a bacterial infection of the abdomen

Are Commercially Found Bone Treats Safe for My Dog?

Can dogs digest bones
Photo credit: PetM

Contrary to what you might think, the answer to this one is a no. Bone treats that you may find in pet stores differ from the bones that you find at the butcher’s. Even though dog treats are processed, they may still be deadly for your dog. According to reports by the FDA in 2015, commercially available bone treats like rib bones, ham bones, femur bones, and knucklebones can cause the following problems :

  • Gastrointestinal blockage
  • Choking
  • Cuts in the mouth or on tonsils
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Death

If you consider buying chews or sticks for your dog, contact your veterinarian to ensure that you choose the correct items for the specific breed.

Which Bones Can My Dog Digest?

Raw bones are the most edible type of bones for your dog. Raw bones of chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef are soft enough for your dog to eat, chew, and digest. The large femur or hip bones from bison and beef contain a lot of meat, soft tissue, and cartilage known as marrow. Bones with marrow contain fats. So you need to adjust your pooch’s diet if you plan to feed marrow-filled bones to your dog. Ask your veterinarian for advice about how to treat raw bones safely and preserve them. Also, consult how you can feed those bones to your dog.


How Can I Feed Bones to My Dog?

Dog Food bones
Photo credit: Vet Academy of USA

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

  • Don’t leave your dog to chew a bone alone. Supervise them as they chew in order to prevent choking hazards.
  • If your dog splinters the bone while chewing. Throw away small pieces as small pieces may pierce their 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.

My Dog Choked on a Bone. What Can I Do?

First of all, calm down and don’t panic. Most of the time the bone will pass and your dog can digest it without any trouble. If the problem persists and you observe these signs please contact your vet as soon as possible:

  • Extreme stress
  • Pain
  • Rubbing their face or neck on the ground
  • Increased saliva production
  • Attempts to vomit
  • Gagging
  • Inappetence


What Are the Benefits of Feeding Bones to My Dog?

For dogs, chewing is an essential normal trait. Recreational bones act like a brush and floss for a dog’s teeth. The tartar breaks down and reduces the gum conditions and cleanses teeth. Chewing also activates the production of saliva enzymes to prevent plaque formation. Pooches who chew on bones are also prone to scratch or lick their own paws.

Chewing has the advantage of emotionally engaging dogs in addition to physical fitness. In fact, this can alleviate anxiety associated with elevated blood pressure and heart disease. Calcium, phosphorus, and other nutrients are healthy supplements in raw bones. Raw bones prevent bloating, foster healthy bowel movement, strengthen stomach muscles, and prevent anal glands.


Is It Necessary to Feed Bones to My Dog?

With all the benefits that are associated with feeding bones to your dog, it is recommended that you do. Most vets advise to grind bones into a fine powder and sprinkle over your dog’s food. Even though your dog can get minerals from bones in this manner, it eliminates the benefits of chewing. Chewing is essential for your dog to maintain their sharp teeth, jaw, and cheekbones. However, discuss with your vet before you decide to give your dog a bone.

After you discuss feeding bones to your dog and get permission from your vet, you can definitely feed bones to your dog. Dogs can digest bones but feed them only those which they are capable of swallowing safely. Depending upon the shape, size, and density of the bone, the digestion of bones in your dog’s stomach may vary. 

Does your dog love chewing on bones? Or have you ever fed your dog with bones? Let us know by giving us feedback. For more articles head on to our website.

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