We’ve all sung this song once upon a time and to most of us giving our dog a bone is completely natural. It’s our way of telling our dogs that we love them. Dogs in return can spend hours chewing on a bone in happy bliss and contentment. However, I’m here to tell you that this is one treat that you may want to cross off your dog’s diet. Recently I have seen many dogs come in to our clinic after either choking on a bone or suffering severe intestinal injury from swallowing one. Bones can seriously harm your dog. Your pet may require hospitalization with major surgery, or even worse, bone ingestion can prove to be fatal.
Bones have Hidden Dangers
Natural bones, whether raw or cooked, can present health hazards to your pooch. The process of cooking the bones in an oven hardens and dries the bone matrix. This allows the bone to splinter when chewed. These sharp fragments can then injure a dog’s intestinal tract. Raw bones are not safe for our dogs either. Raw meat and bones can harbor bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- Broken teeth. This may call for dental X-rays and extractions.
- Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody, messy and painful for your pet.
- Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening and painful for your dog. The veterinarian may need to sedate your pet and saw the bone in half to remove it.
- Bone gets stuck in esophagus or airway. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up. Choking is frightening and the bone can puncture or tear the esophagus. Sometimes a small fragment of bone is accidentally inhaled and lodges in the windpipe. This is a veterinary emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing.
- Bone gets stuck in stomach or intestines. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach or through the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size and location, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone.
- Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along, causing severe pain. Bones also contain a lot of calcium, which is very firming to the stool.
- Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very uncomfortable for your pet, is very messy, and can be dangerous.
- Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines, allowing leakage of intestinal contents. This is a veterinary emergency because peritonitis can kill your dog.
In short, the problems that can arise from bone ingestion are too great. We know you love your dog and perhaps that’s why you gave her the bone to begin with. However, please consider a safer alternative to bones when you are thinking of giving your pooch a tasty treat. Nylabones, Dentastiks, and Kongs are all great alternatives to bones that your dog will love and be much safer enjoying!