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Make No Bones About It…Why Bones Are Bad for Dogs

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Can giving your pet dog a bone hurt him?

(As a pet sitter I strongly recommend that you take heed.)

Everyone knows the line about giving a dog a bone.  It keeps them busy, quiets them, it placates them.  It makes them happy.  And so was born the cliché…

Certainly our dogs’ ancestors relied on bones, as well as the meat of their prey, in order to sustain themselves.  They effectively devoured them without second thought, crushing them for proper ingestion.   So if it was good enough for them, Rover will certainly benefit too, right?

Well, nutritionally, perhaps… but hold on before you head out to the butcher shop.

Our pet dog is a domesticated beast. They no longer fend for themselves, and that fact above all others has allowed the diversity of form and function we see throughout the domestic dog world today.  Can you imagine a pack of wild pugs hunting down and capturing prey?

They have lost some of what the adaptations that were necessary before.  While the teeth are quite similar for many domestic canines, jaw structure and masticatory (chewing) muscles are different. They do not crush their food so efficiently, and the often tend to gobble.  We have all seen the treats seemingly inhaled!  It is these reasons that combine to make trouble when we venture to give a dog a bone.

So what happens?

Well, sometimes, nothing.  I have met plenty of canines that have routinely been given bones over the years, without problems… until that day when there was a problem.  A big problem!

The FDA has even described lots of reasons to worry!

  • Broken teeth.  Painful, and often and expensive repair.
  • Mouth and tongue injuries.  Cuts, bone shards embedded, often very bloody.
  • Bone stuck on the lower jaw.  Scary and painful for your dog. Difficult to remove.
  • Bone stuck in esophagus.  Back to that inhaling treats thing.  Painful. Causes gagging and retching, can cause a perforation of the esophagus, which may result in serious surgery.
  • Bone stuck in windpipe.  Very dangerous! Breathing can be completely compromised!
  • Bone stuck in stomach. Sometimes they are small enough pieces to swallow, but too big to pass through the intestines.  This may result in surgery or endoscopy to retrieve the bone.
  • Bone stuck in intestines.  If the bone piece cannot pass through all of the turns of the intestines, in may cause a blockage.  This is painful and can become life threatening, especially if the bone causes a hole in the intestinal wall. Surgery will be needed.
  • Peritonitis. This is a potentially deadly infection in the abdomen that can occur when pieces of bone pop through the walls of the intestines or stomach!
  •  Constipation or severe bleeding from rectum.  Even if these bone fragments get through the rest of the GI tract, getting out of the body can still be a problem.   These fragments cause damage to the walls of the rectum, which is painful and bleeds readily.  The act of trying to have a bowel movement is quite painful for a pet pushing against bone shards, so they may stop trying to have a movement.  Constipation develops and worsens the situation.


There are lots of reasons to skip the bones! A few minutes-or seconds for some dogs- of tasty enjoyment are never worth the belly ache (among other things) that can follow.  Skip the cliché- DON’T give a dog a bone!


Make No Bones About It… Why Bones Are Bad for Dogs is part of the BAY CREEK BITES series brought to you by

Dr. Kristen Arp of Bay Creek Mobile Veterinary Services, you can reach Dr. Arp at (678) 863-9408

House call appointments are available!

Good Dog! Coaching & Pet Care recommends Dr. Kristen Arp

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