Feeding your dog bones - what you need to know

Dog with bone

Most people believe that feeding dogs bones is a natural, healthy form of nutrition for dogs, not to mention a special treat for them. There are also people who advocate that bones promote clean teeth and contribute to the overall nutrition of the dog.

Some proponents of feeding dogs bones are veterinarians, but increasingly, dog experts and veterinarians are advising that feeding bones is not a viable or safe option, citing the fact that they have little if any nutritional value to dogs and may even cause serious bodily harm. There is evidence to support these arguments, with many vets reporting cases where dogs have been brought into their emergency rooms with symptoms including lethargy, gagging, unsuccessful attempt to vomit or pass stools and dehydration after being fed a diet including raw or cooked bones, and in some cases after raiding the neighbour's rubbish bins.

In most reported cases, dogs required admittance to the vet, and various treatments such as enemas, IV fluids, anaesthesia, sedation, and antibiotics were administered after each dog was X-ray and assessed. In some cases, surgery has been necessary to remove save dogs' lives.

Even in light of this, some may argue that wolves and wild dogs eat bones all of the time and are fine unfortunately there is simply not enough research and evidence to support this claim and prove that these types of complications do not arise in these animals. Furthermore, dogs have become domesticated and as such have undergone some changes in their physiology.

While most people avoid "sharp" bones, hard round bones can cause their own set of problems, including dental issues such as cracking the tips of the fourth premolars. Cracked teeth can lead to bad breath in dogs as well as more serious health issues like infections and abscesses that may necessitate dental reconstruction or extraction.

If you're considering feeding bones to your dog, you should bear in mind that the nutritional benefits usually associated with bones are in fact, actually derived from the soft tissues surrounding the bone including fat, meat, cartilage and marrow, not from the actual bones which are comprised for minerals that are found in many other foods.

Even if bones were nutritionally beneficial to a dog's diet, with even the slightest risk of being dangerous to them, do you really want to take this chance when there are many other safe and nutritious foods and dog treats that are more beneficial to their diet and health needs.