Should You Feed Your Dog Bones?


The short answer is NO.

But for anyone interested here's the long version;
There is much debate amongst the veterinary community over the feeding of raw meat and bones, ask 10 vets and you will get 10 different opinions. I have heard vets who advocate raw bones and not cooked bones, others who say cooked is ok but no raw meat at all, and others who say no to all bones. If you follow Hippocrates advice "Primum non nocere" (first do no harm) then no to all bones seems the logical winner in this debate.

Dogs do like bones and they help keep teeth clean but bones can make your dog very unwell and could even cause fatal disease. Feeding your dog bones can seriously affect the health of people, especially children, living with dogs.

I have seen bones stuck in the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and cause constipation in the large bowel of dogs. I have seen this be fatal on more than one occasion. It is also a costly and traumatic exercise removing some of these bones.

Bones are one of the main causes of dog fights and of dogs biting people.

Bones help clean teeth but they also wear them down faster and can cause teeth to fracture or break.

The fat content of marrow bones can cause pancreatitis, a very painful condition which often causes dogs to be hospitalised on intravenous fluids for days at a time.

Last but by no means least, raw meat has been shown to be a source of organisms such as salmonella, giardia and E. coli which cause " food poisoning" and gastroenteritis in dogs as well as people (think Garabaldi metwurst as an example).

So after the long and the short of it we would not recommend feeding raw bones or meat to dogs and cats as there may be some very serious consequences.

"But dogs in the wild eat raw meat and bones"... true, but they also are vastly different animals to the dogs we have in our homes, Its hard to imagine a pack of Maltese bringing down an antelope for dinner. In the wild dogs live much shorter, harder lives than out pampered pets, if a wild dog gets a bone obstruction or breaks a tooth there is no vet to care for them, they will become sick and may die.

Still not convinced? Well if you feel an uncontrollable urge to feed bones then please please follow some simple points.

  • First make sure the bones are super fresh, freeze for at least 3 days and thaw before use.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Choose soft bones such as neck bones, ribs or pelvises. Hard bones such as marrow bones and lamb shanks are more likely to snap teeth.
  • Trim fat off and avoid marrow bones.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Don't give to dogs if other dogs or children are around.
  • Remove bones that aren't eaten straight away.
  • Wash your hands.

Don't be surprised when your dog has any problems due to bones, we did try to warn you.