Are Bones Safe for my Dog?

A bone from a local supermarket that was sold is lodged around the lower jaw. This happens way too often.

I grew up with the image of dogs loving bones. The cartoons of the day portrayed the dog out burying the bone in the backyard for a special day. But are bones safe for my dog?

Chicken bones and other small bones are very dangerous. As the dog chews on them they splinter leaving very sharp points that may penetrate the digestive tract as they pass (bowel perforation), setting up peritonitis, which is a serious infection in the abdomen that often requires surgery.

What about large bones? Are there safe bones? Many of the retail pet stores sell pre-packaged bones that are supposed to be safe. In reality, they are not. Any bones may cause serious problems.

Chewing on bones cause broken teeth. As dogs aggressively chew on these “safe” bones, they often break teeth, usually the molars. The broken teeth create pain and infected teeth require either extraction or a root canal to resolve the problem.

Flat or long sections of bones often turn side ways across the roof of the mouth and become lodged between the molars. These patients are presented because they keep pawing and digging at their face. These bones are generally so tightly lodged in the patient’s mouth that a general anesthetic is required so the bone may be cut into sections and removed.

A stick lodged in the roof of the mouth. I often see bones lodge in this same area. They are so tightly lodged I have to cut them into pieces under general anesthesia

Round bones often turn at the perfect angle so that as the dog chews the bone slips over the lower canine teeth lodging around the lower jaw. The dog often goes half crazy trying to get the bone off. Again, the dog requires a general anesthetic so the bone may be cut in sections to remove the bone.

Large pieces of bone which are swallowed, often cause obstruction in the digestive tract. Obstructions are resolved only with surgery.

These are common problems seen with bones. Therefore, I never give bones to my dogs. My favorite chew object for dogs are Kong toys. The are hard and not easily destroyed, yet they have enough flexibility that they do not break teeth. Most Kongs are designed to place treats inside of them further encouraging the dog to use them.

The bone had to be cut into pieces to remove it from this dog’s mouth under general anesthesia. This became an expensive bone.

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