What dog doesn’t enjoy chewing on a bone? Not only is it good for his teeth, but it can be a great stress reliever for a nervous or anxious dog. Like humans, dogs get bored and chewing on a bone keeps them active and out of trouble.
Unfortunately, not every bone is safe for a dog to chew on. Some bones can splinter and fragment and increase the risk of mouth injury, choking, or a life-threatening intestinal injury. So, what kind of bones are safe for dogs?
The key to keeping a dog healthy and happy while chewing is to choose a safe dog bone and keep a watchful eye while he chews. Here are some dog safety tips for choosing safe dog bones.
The Benefits of Giving Your Dog a Bone
There are a number of health benefits for dogs that are given bones to chew on.
- Nutritional benefits. Raw bones are a good source of calcium, cartilage, glucosamine, and bone marrow for dogs.
- Dental health. Chewing safe bones aids your pup’s dental hygiene as well, helping to prevent bad dog breath, gum disease, plaque buildup, cavities.
- Digestive health. Bone chewing can help to keep your dog’s stools healthier and more regular.
- Mental health. Chewing releases endorphins like dopamine, the happy hormone. This means chewing on a bone can not only keep your dog from being bored but can actually mellow them out and relieve stress and anxiety.
What to Look for in a Safe Dog Bone
Safe Dog Bones are Size Appropriate
A large dog with a large mouth shouldn’t be given a small bone that can be swallowed whole. When swallowed, a small bone can lodge in the intestinal wall leading to a life-threatening intestinal obstruction. A large dog needs a bone that won’t fit completely into his mouth so the risk of accidental swallowing is reduced. It’s important to be aware of signs of intestinal obstruction in a dog which may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distension, loss of appetite, and lack of motivation. If these symptoms develop, a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.
Dog Safety: Consider the Texture of the Bone
A safe dog bone is one that doesn’t splinter or fragment into small pieces that can lodge in the throat or injure the inside of the mouth or tongue. Bones that splinter can also lead to an intestinal injury.
This is why dogs shouldn’t be given cooked bones or allowed access to a trash can that contains them. Rawhide bones (made from animal skin) are also a poor choice since pieces can break off and become lodged in the throat or intestines.
What about Raw, Hard Bones from the Butcher Shop?
This is a controversial topic. Some veterinarians see no harm in a dog chewing on a meaty, hard bone from the butcher shop, while others believe there’s still a risk of injury.
A raw bone from the butcher shop should never be cooked, and, for safety purposes, an elbow bone rather than a thigh bone is best since it will splinter less easily. Most dogs enjoy these natural bones and they’re great for improving teeth and gum health.
Supervision is Important
Even if a dog is given a safe bone, he should always be supervised when chewing. Watch for signs of distress such as gagging, vomiting, or panting when a dog is chewing. Be prepared to check a chewing dog’s mouth for bone fragments or even perform the Heimlich maneuver should airway obstruction occur. It could be lifesaving.
You should also remove smaller fragments of the bone as it starts to break apart. This will prevent your dog choking on them.
Safe dog bones can give a dog many hours of pleasure and stimulation, but choose them wisely to avoid injury. Your pup’s safety should always be a priority.