Dogs, like humans, need to be entertained and one way to keep them occupied is to give them a bone or a chew toy. Although dogs love the stimulation of chewing on a bone, is this good for your dog’s health? Is a natural dog bone safe for your best friend?
Dogs are natural chewers and can entertain themselves for hours gnawing on a fresh bone. Chewing on bones has its positive aspects since it keeps a dog stimulated while reducing the need to chew on other more important articles such as shoes and household furniture. Plus, the chewing action helps to reduce the buildup of plaque on a dog’s teeth and may help to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Dogs also seem to derive some innate satisfaction from having a bone between their paws. Chewing on a bone seems to provide a form of stress release for some dogs and can have a pronounced calming effect.
Unfortunately when you consider whether a dog bone is safe, you have to take into consideration the downsides of giving your dog a bone. While chewing on a bone can help to promote better canine gum health, it can also be a source for dental injury. It’s not unheard of for an overzealous canine to fracture a tooth by chewing too aggressively on a hard bone. Repetitive chewing over the years can also wear down the surface of the teeth making it difficult for your dog to eat when he’s older.
There’s also the issue of choking. Some dogs are so eager to devour a bone quickly that they’ll break off large portions of the bone and swallow them whole. This can cause intestinal problems ranging from indigestion to obstruction. Certain types of bones such as chicken and pork bones should never be fed to dogs because they have sharp points and can splinter which can wreck havoc on a dog’s intestines.
If some natural dog bones are unsafe for dogs, which bones are best? The larger the bone, the less likely it will be to splinter and lodge in your dog’s intestinal wall. Large cattle bones are one of the safer choices as long as they’re not marrow bones which are cut into round slices that can become lodged in a dog’s mouth. It’s best to avoid rawhide bones and pig ears as they can be a choking hazard and have the potential to become lodged in the intestines causing an obstruction. Plus, many of them are coated with a layer of preservatives which isn’t healthy for your dog.
Is a synthetic dog bone safe as an alternative? Nylon bones can be a viable alternative to natural bones since they aren’t sharp and don’t tend to splinter even when chewed aggressively. Although green dental bones have been touted for their safety and digestibility, there have been some rare cases of dogs dying from intestinal obstruction after chewing on these bones.
Even when you select a dog bone that’s safe, it’s best to monitor your dog closely while chewing to watch for signs of choking or distress. Avoid leaving your dog alone with a bone when you’re leaving the house if possible. When it comes to choosing a bone, the safety of your dog should be the most important consideration.