Dog and bones just seem to go together! Practically every cartoon showing dogs show dogs enjoying bones. Dogs have chewed on bones for recreation since before humans began domesticating the dog. But then, some time ago, veterinarians said that bones for dogs are not good. And all of a sudden, we stopped giving our dogs some of their favorite foods in the world.

So which is which?

Actually, there is a disagreement over the health effects of bones for dogs. Are they good or bad? Some veterinarians cling to the belief that bones for dogs may cause some risks, while others believe bones are actually essential to a dog’s diet.

The Good Thing About Bones

According to Tom Lonssdale, BVSc, MRCVS, a veterinarian in New South Wales, Australia and author of Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health, raw bones are but a natural, healthy food for dogs.

Bones for dogs, especially those that contain some meat, provide your canine pet with protein. What’s more, they contain a balance of essential minerals which your dog needs.

“They also serve as nature’s toothbrush,” Lonssdale adds.

According to Lonssdale in his book, providing your canine friend with bones for dogs helps prevent periodontal disease and can even reverse its effects. Lonssdale further states, “My No. 1 safety warning would be to read up about dietary needs before taking on the responsibility of keeping a carnivore.”

“Bones for Dogs are Bad for Canine Health”

On the other hand, another veterinarian, Ed Sullivan, DVM, of Animal Medical Center, a 24 hour emergency clinic located in Bellingham, Washington, says the exact opposite about bones for dogs. In fact, he outright advises against bones.

He says, “The potential for complications is always there, including bones lodged in the mouth or throat, intestinal obstruction, fractured teeth, and digestive upset.”

Then again, Sullivan adds that he rarely encounters dogs with injury or illness due to eating bones for dogs. He says, “We see way more complications with toys, rocks, plastic bags, clothing, and string than with bones.”

So What’s the Moral of the Story?

The important thing to remember then is to distinguish between the good bones and the bad. Based on the discussion above, it appears that your dog stands to gain more by eating the occasional bone than not avoiding it completely. Accidents involving bones are rare so it should not stop you from trying to provide your dog with as much nutrients and minerals as only a bone can provide.

Just make certain that the bones you get from the butcher or the grocer are not sharply angled or sawed. Instead, try beef tails and ribs, necks of lamb, chicken, turkey and beef. And get bones for dogs that contain lots of meat attached to them but the fat removed.

Except for recreational purposes, avoid large bones as they can chip a dog’s teeth. Large femur and knuckle bones are designed to withstand thousands of pounds of animal weight and are too dense to be eaten and thus if any real benefit to dogs.

I do give bones to my dogs, even the large bones, these usually cut into 2 or 3 inch chunks for the marrow inside and the meat on the outside but I remove them once all the ‘goodies’ are gone. Be sure to always supervise your dog’s bone eating for their own safety.

What about you? Do you feed your dogs bones? What are your feeling on this?

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