Can dogs eat bones? Some types of bones are a hard NO when it comes to treating your dogs but others can be an occasional healthy treat. We are covering all the basics from raw vs. cooked bones to plant-based bone and chew alternatives, and even a simple dog-friendly bone broth recipe!
***Please note, I am not a veterinarian, just a very passionate dog owner! The information in this blog post documents our own personal experiences, research, and the recipes that we feed our dogs under our veterinarian’s careful supervision. Please, consult with your vet and use your own personal judgment when considering transitioning to a 100% human grade food diet for your pup.***
Can dogs eat bones?
Chewing is a healthy and natural behavior for dogs. Almost all puppies chew to get a better understanding of their new surroundings.
Adult dogs engage in the same action, but instead of exploring, they chew as entertainment and therapy, as it can relieve uneasiness and anxiety.
While chewing is great for dogs, never leave your dog alone with a bone for an extended period of time. They are just as capable of choking as we are!
When your dog eats any animals bones keep an eye out for these signs of infection or complications and immediately notify your vet if they occur:
- Dental issues
- Bloody stool
Raw VS Cooked Animal Bones. Are bones safe for dogs?
First and foremost, you should NEVER give your dog cooked bones of any kind!
They fracture into shards, which can cause choking and significant harm to the dog’s mouth, throat, and intestines. By cooking the bones, it can deplete the nutrients in the bone.
Raw bones are generally less dangerous than cooked bones but can still harm your pup. Avoid giving your dogs any of the following bones:
- Rib bones of any kind are smaller than others and prone to breaking or becoming lodged in your dog’s throat.
- Pork bones are prone to splintering and cracking.
- Poultry bones are tiny and can easily break and splinter
If your dog consumes cooked bones, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice or an appointment to rule out any significant consequences.
No – never feed your dog’s poultry bones. Poultry bones appeal to dogs because they are thin, chewy, and usually still covered in meat. Still, they are dangerous, and you should avoid giving them to your dog.
Cooked poultry bones can break and splinter, causing your dog to choke, puncture their gastrointestinal tract, as well as become stuck in their throat. If any of these problems were to occur, it could result in death.
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Chicken, turkey, duck, and geese bones should all be avoided and never fed to your dog.
Chicken feet are a healthy treat that offers a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin that help maintain your dog’s joint health. And they act as edible toothbrushes that keep your pup’s teeth nice and clean.
Whereas raw or dehydrated chicken feet are fine, you should never give your dog cooked, boiled, or fried chicken feet. At high temperatures, chicken bones can get hardened and could splinter, which causes serious injuries to your dog.
Beef Bones (cow)
No, never feed your dog beef bones! Cooked beef bones can split and cause significant internal injuries to dogs. Beef bones, as well as any other cooked bones, are strictly prohibited.
Even though a dog’s strong stomach acid helps break down bones and eliminate bacteria, raw bones can be dangerous, and they need to eat cautiously. While some people feel that beef bones are beneficial for dogs, in our opinion, the risk isn’t worth it.
Pork Bones (pig)
No, never feed your dog pork bones! When your dog chews on pork bones, whether raw or cooked, they are prone to splinter and break. Small chunks of pork bone may be swallowed by your dog, causing choking, intestinal obstructions, or harm to the esophagus or intestines.
Pork rib bones also contain a lot of fat. Dogs aren’t equipped to digest this much-saturated fat and may get pancreatitis as a result.
Are Pig Ears Safe Bone Alternatives for Dogs To Eat?
While pig ears are deemed safe for dogs it would be best if you did not offer them at all.
Pig ears contain a lot of fat, which can lead to obesity. Some dogs may experience stomach pain as a result of eating them also. They can irritate the pancreas, producing pancreatitis in sensitive dogs due to their high-fat content. If your dog shows signs of vomiting, drowsiness, abdominal pain, and diarrhea after ingesting contact your veterinarian.
Yes and no. When it comes to fish – you really need to be careful. The bones are actually the most dangerous part of feeding fish to dogs.
The bones of fish are tiny, fragile, and potentially deadly. They can get caught in your dog’s mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines, potentially puncturing the organ wall in some cases.
The only type of fish that contains bones you should ever feed your dog are bite-sized sardines.
Fresh and whole sardines are ideal if you can find them and want to give your dog something to chew on for a few minutes. However, if the sardine is on the larger side you will have to remove the backbone before treating your dog.
Canned boneless sardines in water are a good choice for treating as well, avoid sardines that are flavored or packed in oil. Again, if your tinned sardines are not boneless you may have to remove the backbone before offering them to your dog.
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Adding chopped-up sardines or the water from a can of sardines to your dog’s dinner is a great way to add both moisture and nutrition.
How many sardines are the right amount to feed your dog? Well, it varies. The website Home Alive Pet has a weight-based sardine treating chart which is linked here. It starts with dogs that are less than 5 pounds which only need 2 sardines at a time or ¼ of a can. And goes all the way to dogs that are over 51 pounds which can eat upwards of 15 sardines in one sitting or 1 ¾ of a can.
Dogs can eat lamb bones, but they must be large enough not to fit entirely into their mouths.
Raw meaty bones, such as lamb flaps ( the breast of the lamb), can help maintain your dog’s teeth, keep their gums healthy, and provide additional nourishment and cleansing of the digestive tract.
Deer bones are an excellent way to add to your dog’s diet. Dogs in moderation can consume raw deer bones. Deer bones can be used as a natural toothbrush when left uncooked. It keeps dogs’ teeth clean and gums healthy by removing plaque build-up.
When you give your dog a deer bone to chew on, it’s essential to keep an eye on them while they eat it.
Fatty foods, such as bone marrow should be eaten in moderation, especially by dogs with health issues. As long as the marrow is separate from cooked bones, cooked bone marrow can be eaten in addition to a meal or as a special treat.
Are Rawhide Bones Safe for Dogs To Eat?
Rawhide carries more risks than benefits, so dog owners should avoid them and seek alternate pet treats or natural chews. Rawhide bones can induce choking and obstruction. In reality, that is a much more significant concern than contamination or an upset stomach. Rawhide can get caught in the esophagus or other regions of the digestive tract if your dog swallows large pieces of it.
Are Nyalbones Safe for Dogs To Chew?
It’s a hard no for us and even the manufacturers! Nylabones “non-edible chew products are made with plastic, rubber, or nylon. They are NOT intended for consumption” Nylabone® Non-Edible Chew
Nylabones, are made of plastic. They create a massive risk to your dog if swallowed. But, if you insist on providing these for your dog there are a few rules you can keep in mind that will ensure they’re no more dangerous for your dog to chew on than any other chew toy.
- Nylabones come in various sizes, so make sure you get the right one for your dog.
- When the knuckle ends wear down or the bone becomes too small to chew correctly, you should replace your dog’s Nylabone.
Natural Chews, Rawhide, and Other Bone Alternatives
Sweet Potato Chews
Among vegetables, sweet potatoes are one of the top providers of fiber. Fiber is beneficial to your dog’s digestive system. It will aid in regular, healthy bowel movements, and can help in relieving digestive problems.
A few other great benefits of sweet potatoes are:
- Promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
- They are high in potassium.
- Support healthy vision.
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Carrots are full of Vitamin A, which is good for their eyes, immune system, skin, and coat. Giving your dogs whole carrot “bones” is as easy as washing them and topping them!
To increase the crunch factor and prolong chewing time, freeze-prepped whole carrots before treating your dog.
I bet you didn’t consider an apple a chew toy, but our dogs LOVE them! I make up big batches and keep them on hand in the freezer for whenever our dogs get bored and need a tasty chew
Bully sticks are a 1-ingredient treat made from high-protein beef muscle. Beef is a complete source of amino acids, which supports your dog’s muscles, brain, skin, and coat. Bully sticks are a great chew option, as they are free from artificial chemicals, additives, and preservatives.
While you should always maintain a teeth-brushing routine with your pup, you can use bully sticks as a way to help maintain clean teeth.
Bone broth is safe for dogs! It can be a delightful and nutritious addition to your dog’s regular meals. Although nutritional, it should not be the primary source of nutrition for a dog.
Bone broth contains a variety of nutrients that are good for dogs. It’s high in protein, glycine, collagen, and glucosamine, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Glycine: This neutral amino acid is helpful in the kidneys of dogs suffering from ischemia-reperfusion (tissue damage caused when blood supply returns to tissue).
Collagen– A protein that has positive effects on mobility, skin, and coat, and digestion
Glucosamine– This nutrient can help lubricate your dog’s joints and boost the making of core proteins, which can aid in the health and overall of joints.
Some of the best bone broths for dogs are:
Our dogs love our homemade bone broth recipe below, but they also really dig Native Pet’s Beef Bone Broth Topper when I’m running low.
How to use bone broth for dogs.
Bone broth can be used and fed in so many different ways. If your dog needs their food hydrated due to poor teeth or you are looking to add a protein boost to your pup’s diet – bone broth is the way to go.
- You can freeze it into bone broth ice cubes for cold treats on hot days.
- When heated until just warm it can be served as a warm drink for your pup.
- Or you can pour it over your dog’s dinner as a savory topper for homemade or dry food.
How much bone broth to feed at a time to your dog (or cat).
Dogs and cats under 20 pounds, serve them 1 oz of bone broth a day.
For dogs between 20-40 pounds, serve them 2 oz of bone broth a day.
Dogs between 50-80 pounds, feed them 4 oz of bone broth a day.
For dogs 80+ pounds, feed them 6 oz of bone broth a day
If you’ve made our bone broth for dogs recipe I would be so grateful if you would rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below!Print