Knick-Knack Paddy-Wack, Give a Dog a Bone?

It’s an indisputable fact that dogs like to chew bones (especially the ones that were recently on your plate). The fact is so well-known and ingrained within human/canine relationships that it’s spawned its own idioms. When you give your dog a bone, it should be known that not just any bone will do; some of them can cause serious health problems in your four-legged friend. Here are a few things you should know about recreational bones:

  • If your dog chews aggressively, you may want to give him an edible bone instead of a regular one. When dogs chew aggressively, they’re prone to damaging their teeth, and require an expensive trip to a veterinary dentist. Edible bones are typically made of chicken wing bones and turkey necks that have been crushed and formed into a shape. These bones are made to be broken down and are far, far less likely to injure a dog who chews with purpose.
  • Size matters. While no bone can be too big, they can most certainly be too small. If you’re not sure whether or not a bone is too small for your dog, match it up with their head. If it seems like it could fit down her throat, it probably can. Also, some bones (such as the edible ones mentioned above) will start out large, but eventually be whittled down into smaller bits. If the bone gets too small – throw it out! If you’re not sure, throw it out anyway. Replacing a new bone is minor trauma compared to the heartache that results when you have to attempt to replace your dog.
  • Safety first. There are many risks involved with rawhide bones. These bones can cause intestinal damage due to splintering and are extremely difficult to digest. Research at Purdue University says that “rawhide chews were only 70 percent digested after 6 hour gastric + 18 hour small intestinal digestion. Gastric digestion at 12 and 18 hours did not result in further improvement in rawhide. Additionally, there are chemicals used in the tanning process that can be dangerous to ingest. A bone from the butcher, dental chews, nylon bones or hooves are a safer bet.”
  • Supervise your dog while he chews his bone. You don’t necessarily have to sit there and stare at him. Just give a glance now and again. If a piece breaks off, make sure to pick it up and throw it away before your dog can swallow it. Rule of thumb: never serve special treats unless you are there to supervise.
  • Last, but not least: if you have more than one dog, it might be wise to separate them before giving them their bones (especially if you give them raw bones). Even the friendliest dogs can become territorial of their food when you put their favorite treat in front of them.