Bone Up on Safe Treats for Your Best Friend
That age old expression: Give a dog a bone. We all know it, we all do it – and why shouldn’t we? Bones have been a favourite for dogs as long as we can remember. The question is: is it really healthy for your pet to chew on bones?
We did some research and found out what the experts say. Here’s the low-down:
Raw or cooked?
No doubt one of the best options would be raw bones, whether it is chicken, beef, lamb or turkey. Raw bones hold the following benefits:
- They are a tasty treat
- Raw bones hold various dental benefits (prevents plaque build-up and gum disease)
- It is easy and safe to chew on
- You can give your old dog a whole fish, including the head, because it is soft and easy to chew on
DO NOT give your pooch raw pork bones as it can be contaminated and make them really ill. If you absolutely have to, make sure that the bones have been frozen for a few weeks to kill any bacteria that it still contains.
Cooked bones hold the danger of splintering and can be hazardous to your mutt’s health as they have a tendency to get stuck in their gums or throat. Especially avoid cooked fish and poultry for the following reasons:
- They splinter into tiny shards that get stuck in between teeth (which can be painful)
- If swallowed, these bones can cause internal damage (to the throat and intestines)
- Bones can cut open the inside of your dog’s mouth which can become infected
Dr. Brasko (a holistic veterarian) recommends avoiding the 3 B’s: Baked, Broiled or Barbequed (especially chicken bones and beef T-bones). The heat from these cooking processes dries the bone which makes it brittle and prone to splintering.
What about Rawhide chew toys?
Rawhide treats are made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. The hides are cleaned and cut or ground. Afterwards they are made into various treats and toys. Some even contain beef, chicken, or liver flavourings.
Many studies have shown that there are advantages and disadvantages to rawhide bones. While they hold some dental benefits the risks are far greater:
- They may cause vomiting, choking or constipation
- Cross contamination can occur during the manufacturing process (this can cause salmonella poisoning or e-coli)
- Some dogs are severely allergic to the ingredients added and their intestines can become irritated
- Swallowing whole pieces can cause a blockage in the intestinal system
Alternative, safe options:
Recreational bones are great as a chew toy, not a meal. Large joint bones, knuckle bones and beef leg bones can keep your pooch occupied for hours on end – just make sure that they are the correct size to avoid choking hazards. Giving your dog something to chew on 15 minutes after a meal helps to stimulate saliva production – which helps to remove trapped food from between their teeth.
Bear in mind that while bones are tasty and a great way to keep your pets occupied, ingesting too much of it can lead to constipation.
Also make sure to check with your vet whether your breed of dog can handle bones, some breeds (like pugs and bull dogs) are simply not mechanically able to chew on bones safely.
The next time you throw your best friend a bone (so to speak) – make sure that you have considered the above mentioned points so that your dog will be happy and healthy!