We’ve all seen the depiction of dogs in cartoons, chasing after bones, burying them, and treating them as their most prized possession. But is this true in real life? If it is, why do dogs like bones so much? It could just be the taste, or texture, or simply because dogs like to chew on something tough. We often hear that bones aren’t the safest chew toy, but can they be a good occasional reward? These are all questions we will answer today.
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Reasons Why Dogs Like Bones
Before we take a look at the benefits of chewing on bones, let’s explore the reasons why dogs like bones.
The Bone Marrow
Bone marrow is a very nutritious substance and is very delicious to your dog. Dogs like bones to get to the marrow. Dogs gave humans the permanent impression that bones are their favorite treat due to their ancestors. Dogs of old liked to chew on bones to get to the marrow, a nutrition-dense and very healthy source of fat and calories. The bone itself is also good for your dog once digested, but it’s important not to let your dog splinter the bone.
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Animals and humans alike need nutrition to thrive, and dogs are inclined to seek it out. Aside from the bone marrow, the bone itself is also very healthy. The bone contains amounts of calcium and other minerals. Thanks to their ingrained programming, dogs will instinctively consume the bones.
If it’s not just a bare bone, the chicken bones, beef bones, and other animal bones can contain scraps of meat and cartilage that are very good for your dog. It’s also a fun activity for your pup to get all the morsels off of the surface and can double as a source of mental stimulation and distraction.
Speaking of mental stimulation, it’s a huge benefit to give your dog a bone to keep him busy. Once the bone has been hollowed out, you can even try sticking a treat into the cavity to get the most use out of the dog bones. Like a Kong toy, the bone can act as a treat receptacle and further motivate your dog to try and get the delicious reward in the middle.
Promotes Dental Health
As a dedicated dog owner will know, a dog chewing on a bone can help reduce tartar and plaque buildup. The surface of the bone will scrape against the surface of your dog’s teeth to remove any existing food residue. If you notice your dog is starting to have some discoloration or buildup on his teeth, you can toss him a bone to treat the problem.
The chewing will also stimulate blood flow to the gums for gum health and saliva production that will maintain overall dental health.
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Are Bones Safe for Dogs?
You must have seen many reports and articles online advising owners to avoid giving their dogs bones. With so much information out there to absorb, you might wonder what’s true and what’s not. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s all true. Bones can be dangerous for dogs, but you can also make it safe by taking necessary precautions.
Always Monitor Your Dog
When you give your dog a bone, always make sure to supervise him for as long as he has it. Some breeds can have very strong jaws that splinter and break the bone into pieces. These pieces can then become lodged in their throat. In more serious cases, the bones can piece through their internal organs.
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Opt for Bigger Bones
You should always choose to give your dog larger bones as smaller ones can become choking hazards. Many dogs can swallow the bone in one gulp and choke on the small piece. Just like with kibble, different bone sizes are meant for different dogs. Make sure the piece you give your dog isn’t small enough to be swallowed whole.
Remove it Right Away if Breakage Occurs
If you give a passionate chewer a bone that’s much too large or thick, your dog could end up cracking a few teeth. Once you notice any splintering, cracking, or breaking, you must remove the bone from your dog’s possession right away.
You should also remove it when the bone becomes a choking hazard. Just like with chewing antlers, they shrink over time as they are slowly ingested by your dog. It will get to a point where the bone is small enough for your dog to swallow, and trust us that they will try. This is why it’s vital to keep a close eye on chewing tendencies.
Choose Raw Bones Over Cooked Ones
Raw bones are harder and much sturdier than ones that have been cooked. Cooked bones tend to be softer and break more easily. Raw bones are safe to ingest and make excellent chew toys. Try to avoid pork bone and ribs because these tend to be easier to chew through.
Bones are usually viewed as high-value treats by your dogs. They are very delicious rewards that shouldn’t be given on a whim. There is a chance that your dog will let his wild side take over when he’s handed a bone and exhibits aggressive behavior or food guarding. It’s not unusual for a dog to like bones, but he should not bare his teeth at you or get nasty.
If you see this in your dog, you need to train him. Food and resource guarding is a problematic issue that may require professional help. Puppy classes at a young age are an excellent way to prevent or address the guarding, but dogs of any age can be trained.
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What Bones Can I Feed My Dog?
Stay away from pork bone. Chicken, lamb, elk, turkey, and beef bones are all excellent bone marrow sources and teeth cleaners. You can give your dog the femur, knuckles, necks, and even the ears of these animals. You will see pig ears for sale at your local pet shop, and any part of the pig that’s not the bone is safe for your pooch.
If you are more in line with the ‘no bones’ camp, then we have some other chew toy alternatives for you that don’t contain rawhide. Rawhide came out as being harmful treats, but many may wonder what it is about these treats that make them undesirable.
Rawhide undergoes severe artificial treatment before making it into pet stores. Not only that, they are not easy to digest and can become lodged inside your dog and become a permanent blockage. When this happens, your poor fur baby will definitely need surgery, and sometimes it can be too late.
No one wants to see their beloved dog in pain, so we advise dog owners to steer clear of rawhide altogether and try out some of these safe alternatives.
Bully sticks are excellent bone substitutes that simulate the benefits of raw bones but none of the danger. Bully sticks will soften from your dog’s saliva, and often contains beneficial ingredients that can keep your dog’s teeth clean. Bully sticks come in various shapes and sizes suitable for dogs big and small. There are even options for teething puppies. Just make sure you know what kind of chewer your dog is and buy the appropriate hardness and size.
Yak Chews/Cheese Chews
These long blocks of cheese are even harder than bully sticks and are made for avid chewers. These cheese chews are excellent sources of calcium and protein and can keep your pooch busy for hours. But because they are so hard and difficult to chew, we would only advise this for dogs that tear through most other options. We don’t recommend these yak chews for puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with poor dental health.
Horns and Antlers
Many horns and antlers out there can come stuffed with delicious surprises such as bacon and pizzle. Pizzle may not sound inviting to you, but these items are irresistible to your dog. These alternatives will not splinter and can actually be slowly digested like bully sticks as they break down into small pieces.
Why Does My Dog Need a Chew?
Dogs chew, and that’s just a fact. The key to dealing with chewing is to encourage ‘good chewing’. However, you must first understand why your dog has a need to chew.
Destructive chewing can come from boredom. An under-exercised and under-stimulated dog is much more prone to boredom, which leads to random chewing. They may chew through anything they can get their hands on, and if they aren’t left with anything to do, they could tear through walls and your furniture! Always make sure your dog is adequately exercised and mentally stimulated.
Separation anxiety happens a lot with Velcro dogs. Some dog breeds are more likely to exhibit and develop this behavior while others are groomed to be like this. Your dog is feeling upset, stressed, scared, and alone, which manifests through destructive chewing. Serious cases of separation anxiety need to be addressed with the help of a trainer.
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Dogs explore the world with their noses and mouths. You will notice their first instinct is to stick their noses into things, and then lick or chew it. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on your pooch on walks and more so when they are at home in the puppy stage. You want to catch unwanted chewing early on and discourage it before it becomes a permanent habit.
Then there is puppy teething, which is unavoidable. Just like with human babies, teething is painful and annoying, and the pup will seek out something to relieve his pain, which happens to be everything in sight. In order to avoid unwanted chewing, you must redirect the behavior by removing what is inappropriate to chew and replacing it with what is allowed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it bad to give your dog bones every day?
It’s not bad to give your dog the same bone every day to work out his chewing frustrations. However, if he is ingesting a new bone every day, then it could lead to digestion problems and constipation. if a bone is used solely as a chew toy for your dogs then there are much fewer drawbacks. We would suggest giving your dog one bone to work every few days or so to a week to limit the mount.
Is it ok for a dog to eat bones?
Yes, it’s okay for dogs to eat bones, especially ones that are rich in bone marrow. Bone marrow is an excellent source of minerals for your dog and is a very healthy snack. Dogs like bones because the texture is hard enough to satisfy their chewing needs and clean their teeth. It’s okay for dogs to eat raw bones, but stay away from cooked bones because those tend to be softer and easier to splinter.
Once a bone splinters, it can become a safety hazard for your dogs. Raw bones can lodge themselves inside your dog and cause blockage or even puncture your dog’s insides.
Why do dogs need to eat bones?
Dogs need to eat bones because it gets their frustrations out, bones deliver extra nutrients, it can help promote dental health, and it redirects problematic chewing onto something much more suitable. Another reason dogs need to eat bones is that they like them! There are plenty of benefits, but it isn’t without its drawbacks.
You must always supervise your dog when he is chewing on a bone, and always remove it when the bone gets small enough to become a choking hazard. Once you hear the bone splinter, break or crack, you should waste no time in confiscating it.
What bones are safe for dogs?
You should steer clear of pork bones and opt for lamb, chicken, turkey, or beef bones. Dogs like bones raw, as it contains all the flavors of the meat, cartilage, and tendons. It’s good they prefer the bones raw because cooked bones are a health hazard. Not only are they softer, but they also break much more easily. If you want your dogs to get the most out of the bones, then don’t cook them because this will deprive them of any nutrients.
What if a dog eats a pork bone?
Pork bones are generally more likely to break, splinter, or crack just due to their nature. If you accidentally feed your dog a pork bone, we suggest taking it away from him immediately. If the bone has already broken and a piece has already been ingested by your pup, we suggest calling the vet right away. If the piece is small enough to pass through your dog’s system, then we just suggest monitoring him for the next 24 hours.
Why do dogs like bones? There are plenty of reasons, from the taste to the health benefits. But before you give your dog a bone, we suggest understanding the potential risks and mitigating them by keeping a close watch on him Never feed him pork bone and always pick one that is of a suitable size. If you are still skeptical about the safety of feeding your dog a bone, then you can opt for other alternatives that are easily accessible at your local pet store such as yak chews, antlers, and bully sticks.
Did You Know
There is another way to extract all the nutrients inside the bones. Instead of “throwing your dog a bone”, you can make a nutrient-rich bone broth. The broth can be used as a dog food topper and is an excellent solution for pick-eaters.
Aside from bones, all of the harder chews we presented on our alternatives list can also act as teeth cleaners and support dental health.