Are bones okay for dogs?
I have heard a lot about feeding your dog meat bones. I have a teacup Poodle, about five pounds, and she loves beef ribs. Could this be bad for her?
Beverly, Claremont, NC
Giving bones to dogs is so common that it is a clich. And, frankly, plenty of dogs have been gnawing on bones all their lives without problems. So why is it controversial?
In fact, giving meat bones to dogs is a risky proposition. Most people know that dogs can break chicken bones into pieces and swallow them, with very serious consequences. However, chicken bones are not unique in this fashion. Just about any bone can break when fed to a dog. If the dog swallows the fragments, they may lodge in the intestines, and surgery may be required to extract them. I have removed many bone fragments from dogs in this fashion.
If a bone is too strong to fragment in the dogs mouth, then a different problem can occur: fractured (broken) teeth. Dozens of my patients have broken their teeth while biting down on bones. These injuries can be extremely painful and may require expensive dental surgery to correct, often by extracting the tooth.
Finally, some dogs, especially those who aren't used to them, will suffer from diarrhea or vomiting after receiving bones.
There are many chew toys, including Greenies and Kongs, that tend to cause fewer problems. I recommend these products instead of meat bones.