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Dogs love to chew on bones. Give your dog a bone, and he’ll spend hours happily chewing. But is this actually safe for dogs? In recent years the practice of letting dogs chew on bones has become more controversial. Bones can cause choking — and even if swallowed, may cause damage to a canine’s digestive system. Some skeptics say these dangers are sufficient to justify keeping bones away from dogs entirely.
The view of the skeptics is extreme and unwarranted. Bones pose dangers to dogs, it is true — but they are also healthy and beneficial. The risks can, in any case, be mitigated by an owner who takes the proper precautions. If you own a dog, you should learn about which sorts of bones are okay, and how to feed them to your dog safely. Your animal companion’s wellbeing should be of paramount concern.
Dangers Depend On Breeds
First, it’s important to understand that some dogs cannot safely chew bones at all, particularly members of certain breeds. A tiny dog with delicate jaws is simply not built to handle a bone. Dogs with sensitive stomachs may become ill if they consume bones, since bone marrow is very rich. Lastly, dogs with weak teeth may scrape off enamel or even break their teeth off if given a bone. Consult with your pet’s veterinarian if you think your dog might be incapable of handling a bone.
Bones You Should NOT Give Your Dog
Now, let’s address the types of bones that shouldn’t be given to dogs. Firstly, bones can be the wrong size. Bones should be matched to your dog’s size and chewing ability. A bone that’s too big can’t really be dangerous (though your dog won’t enjoy a gigantic, unwieldy bone very much) — but small bones can definitely pose a risk. Any bone that your dog can swallow whole has a chance of harming your pet’s digestive system.
Cooked bones are also not appropriate, since cooking a bone makes it become brittle and prone to splintering. If a bone fragments after being swallowed, serious damage to your dog’s intestines and stomach might result. As a general rule, don’t give your dog any bone that has undergone any sort of food preparation — except for boiling, which only softens bones.
Bones You Can Safely Give Your Dog
Among bones that are safe for dogs, some sorts are better than others. Marrow bones are the best type of natural bones for canines. Since bone marrow is rich in nutrients, marrow bones (unlike cooked bones) are very healthy for dogs. Marrow bones are also solid and will rarely splinter, so your dog will run little risk of hurting himself.
Artificial bones made from either rawhide or nylon are another good option, though such bones lack the natural flavors that dogs adore. While your dog may not appreciate artificial bones as much as the real thing, their canine urge to chew will still be satisfied. Plus, artificial bones are very safe.
Supervision Is Necessary
No matter what sort of bone you give your dog, watching your pet as he chews is a good idea. There is always a chance that a dog will try to swallow a dangerously large chunk of bone. Try to at least make periodic checks on your canine as he enjoys his bone — if you observe any danger, you’ll have the chance to remove the bone from your pet’s grasp.
Benefits Of Dogs Chewing Bones
While bones can pose some risk to dogs, they can also provide considerable benefit. Chewing on a bone stimulate a dog’s jaw, and may even remove plaque from teeth. Gum health and protection from bad breath have also been linked to bone chewing. Real bones containing marrow will also provide nutritional benefits to your canine. Bone marrow contains collagen (which supports healthy joints and connective tissues), valuable minerals, and phosphorus. In addition, bones are rich in calcium. Remember, consuming bones is natural for dogs — canines in the wild do so all the time. It shouldn’t be a surprise that bones are healthy for dogs.
Besides health benefits, dogs enjoy chewing on bones. Dogs will become bored and unhappy if they have nothing to occupy their time. A bone is a great, simple way to entertain your dog. Your dog will love you for giving him a bone. Letting your pet chew on bones may even help keep him out of trouble, since many dogs misbehave out of boredom.
Food & Danger Always Exist Together
Bones will always be somewhat dangerous for dogs, no matter what precautions are taken. However, life is full of risks, so trying to remove every minor danger to your dog is silly and impossible. Besides, the benefits of bones outweigh the risks. Just be as careful as possible and only give your dog safe bones — your pet will appreciate your kindness.