Feeding bones to dogs has been depicted as perfectly natural for as long as any of us can remember. Whether dogs are depicted in cartoons, children’s stories or nursery rhymes there is usually a bone in its mouth or at its side.
However, what we’ve learned thanks to modern medical science is that feeding a dog bones can be potentially life-threatening. Here’s how:
Feeding bones can cause obstruction
Let’s illustrate our point with Rambo’s story. He was brought to our Cottage Vet Clinic because he was struggling to breathe. He’d started breathing heavily the previous evening and it had become steadily more laboured.
Initial assessment showed a dog in severe distress. Every breath was an effort and he was tiring fast. Our team realised we had just minutes to save him and jumped into action, giving him oxygen to buy us some time and then we took chest X-rays. The X-rays didn’t show much, so on a hunch we took X-rays of his throat as well, and what a shock we got!
A full-length drumstick chicken bone (femur) was stuck in Rambo’s trachea (windpipe). This is an extremely dangerous situation: the bone could have slipped further down into the trachea which would mean certain disaster. So, while keeping Rambo as calm as possible, he was immediately placed under general anaesthetic and the bone gently removed.
We are happy to report that Rambo is doing well.
We know that some owners insist they have been feeding their dogs bones for years but in the last two weeks we have seen 6 dogs at a single clinic with bone-related ailments, and unfortunately not all had a happy ending.
Let’s bust a few bone myths
Bones are good for teeth
The only things that bones are good at is breaking teeth. Bones are the most common objects that break dogs’ teeth. If the tooth breaks into the root, it can cause significant pain and discomfort. It can also lead to tooth root infection and even bone infection. https://www.ebervet.com/bones-for-your-d…t-encourage-them/
Bones clean teeth
Bones do not clean teeth. For teeth to be cleaned there needs to be scraping action on the tooth surface. Bones splinter or break before they can scrape the tooth, or they stay whole and break the tooth. Dental treats, sinews or tendons are much better. Even better still is brushing.
Bones are good for bone and joint development
Bones are not good for growing bones and joints. We have overwhelming scientific evidence that diets high in calcium increase growth rates in puppies. Now although this sounds good, it isn’t. We want young dogs to grow slowly as this allows their joints to develop properly. Too much calcium can also lead to mineral deposits in abnormal places such as the kidneys, which can cause irreversible damage and even life-threatening disease.
With so many alternatives and the high risk of injury associated with bones, there is very little reason to feed bones to your best friend. The risks far outweigh the benefits.