Think about the health advantages and dangers prior to feeding bones to dogs. The argument over whether to feed bones to dogs rages on. Hardcore followers in bone feeding insurance claim that feeding bones is the method to maximum health for pet dogs. People who protest feeding bones point to examples of pets that have actually had their intestinal tracts clogged with bone fragments, or develop used or fractured teeth.

Exactly what’s a concerned and accountable pet dog owner to do? When it comes to feeding bones, there is no basic answer. As a holistic veterinarian, I constantly try to go back to more-natural ways of doing things – letting dogs be pets. Since chewing on bones is a natural canine behaviour, I’m strongly in favour of pet dogs feeding bones, with some caveats. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of feeding bones.

advantages of feeding dogs bonesFotokostic / Shutterstock


Dental. There’s no question that the abrasive action of chewing bones assists improve a pet dog’s oral health. Many owners who feed bones and holistic veterinarians who advise feeding bones explain that the abrasive action of chewing bones assists keep teeth clean.

Nevertheless, it must be kept in mind that canine oral hygiene is an individual matter. Some pets have pearly white teeth for most of their life time; others seem to accumulate tartar no matter what we try. In any event, canine owners who feed bones nearly widely report cleaner teeth and less trips to the vet for routine dental work.

Physical and Mental Health. The act of chewing bones (consisting of bones with meat connected) works a dog’s jaw, face and tongue muscles. Seeing a canine most likely to deal with a bone provides us an appreciation for how joyous the experience is. There’s no better canine sedative than a bone to munch on, and the need to chew is a natural quality residential dogs have acquired from their wolf ancestors.

Pet owners who feed bones report health benefits, consisting of enhanced food digestion, joints, skin and immune system. These reports are anecdotal, it’s hard to disregard their large numbers.

Nutritional. The dietary advantages of bones are frequently touted by bone supporters, but we have to look beyond the bone for any significant amount of nutritional worth. Bones themselves are mainly calcium and phosphorous (minerals that have to be digested and absorbed prior to they have any benefit), along with percentages of other (generally poorly digestible) nutrients in the marrow and cartilage.

Meat attached to bones is highly healthy, and chondroitin, the crucial joint-health nutrient (which helps to lubricate joints) is found in cartilaginous tissue.

Lastly, pet dogs do not require much calcium or phosphorous on a daily basis; the balance of mineral nutrients is more important than their total quantities in the diet. For that reason, it would be ill advised to assume that just feeding bones will result in a balanced diet plan. Nevertheless, supporters say that there seems to be something aside from nutrients that works to make their pets look brighter, feel much better and live healthier lives.


Split or Broken Pearly whites. Almost every vet in practice can share a story or two about pets that have actually fractured or broke their teeth while chewing bones. Some canines are such aggressive chewers that they munch their teeth to nubs in a few years. This can usually be prevented by monitoring the dog and strengthening slower chewing.

Stuck Bones. Bone splinters that lodge in the mouth in between teeth are generally simple to remove. Bones that become lodged internally are another matter, and those that can’t be moved along with a laxative or an enema might require surgery. Bone pieces can become stuck anywhere along the pet’s digestion tract, from mouth to anus. Seldom, a bone splinter will bore the digestive tract wall, and the only solution is surgical treatment.

Germs and Bones. Any uncooked meat can be infected with bacteria. Raw chicken, for instance, is frequently polluted with Salmonella. Nevertheless, it’s practically difficult to get a true understanding of just how much we have to stress over the germs. After all, pet dogs are genetically configured to eat days old carcasses that are rife with bacteria, and it’s difficult to find validated cases of bacterial poisoning after a canine has eaten bones or raw foods.

Some potential exists for bacteria to travel through the pet and into the environment, where it can impact human beings. Once again, the level of this issue is unclear, however take additional preventative measures (such as washing your hands after cuddling your dog) in households with young children, or homes with pregnant women or anybody whose immune system is compromised.

treat of feeding bones to dogsKalypsoWorldPhotography / Shutterstock


Cooked bones, compared to fresh, raw bones, are relatively breakable and can piece and splinter easily. The risk of lodged bone pieces and split teeth can be minimised by feeding bones that are appropriate for your pet dog’s size. The bone ought to be uncooked and not so small that your dog can swallow it entire. The bone needs to likewise be large enough that the pet can’t get its molars around it, which would allow the dog to crush the bone – or its teeth. Dogs that chomp on meaty bones produce more stomach acids, so bones with meat are more likely to be digested appropriately.

Supervision is important. Display your pet’s chewing, and take away the bones if they start to fragment into splinters or when your canine loses interest (so the bone does not collect bacteria). Close observation is especially important for pets that gulp their food; for heavy-jawed eaters (those that can break even gigantic bones or toys); for puppies; and for novice bone chewers.

To help prevent bacterial contamination, deal with the bones like you would other meat item. Keep the bones cooled or frozen till used, tidy your hands and meat-cutting surfaces after managing, and take the bones away from the dog before they start to spoil.


For those who absolutely can not bring themselves to feed their canine whole bones (some individuals, consisting of some vets, fall into this classification), a middle-road technique is grinding the bones and feeding the resulting meat and bone mix. This provides a few of the bone-feeding benefits without the dangers. Also, feeding ground bones leaves less mess to tidy up, and might make it simpler to keep germs to a minimum.

Ground bones will not be as abrasive as whole bones, so the tooth-cleaning action will not be as terrific. However, numerous owners who feed ground bones report that their bone chewers have cleaner teeth and much better dental health. Pet dogs fed ground bones do not get to exercise their gnawing muscles, though, and there’s no “thrill of the chew” with ground bones. Discovering a fairly affordable mill that is both strong sufficient to grind bones and has a service warranty that will cover routine grinding can be a task. A Web search would be a good location to begin looking.


It’s my viewpoint that feeding bones is among the best ways to motivate dogs to be pet dogs, naturally. As a vet, I have actually seen some issues with feeding bones – such as chipped teeth, rare intestinal tract impactions and very uncommon perforations – but the occurrence of issues is low, specifically when we consider all the pet dogs that regularly eat bones.

I’m convinced that the extent of these concerns is no place near the health related problems we see in family pets that are fed poor quality industrial foods. And so, for all canines, with the possible exception of the gulpers and hard-gnawers, I whole heartedly suggest bones as an addition to a high-quality diet plan.

Featured image courtesy of schubbel / Shutterstock.