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Can Dogs Have Bones?

by Scott Marshall March 13, 2024 6 min read

Can Dogs Have Bones?

Can Dogs Have Bones?

In the diverse landscape of a raw diet for dogs, the question of whether bones are suitable for our canine companions stands out as a critical concern. 

As we navigate through the complexities of raw feeding, it becomes essential to distinguish between various types of bones, understand the preparation required, and recognize the signs of bone-related health issues. 

By addressing the nuances of bone feeding, we aim to enhance the well-being of our dogs, ensuring their diet promotes both enjoyment and health.

What are safe bones for dogs?

When considering the addition of bones to your dog's diet, prioritizing safety and nutritional benefits is paramount. 

Raw poultry bones present a viable option, albeit with a cautionary note on potential choking hazards. This risk is not unique to bones, dogs choke on kibble every year - it all underscores the importance of ALWAYS observing feeding time for your dogs. Never let them eat alone.

Offering more than just a satisfying chew, these bones aid in dental health by assisting in tartar removal.

It's essential to underscore that not all bones are equal in the eyes of canine nutrition, and the selection process is critical. 

Opting for these safer bone choices empowers dog owners to incorporate this element into their pets' diets confidently, enhancing their overall nutrition and well-being.

Why are some bones dangerous for dogs?

The inclusion of bones in a dog's diet must be approached with caution due to the risks some bones pose. 

Cooked bones are a primary concern, as their tendency to splinter can lead to dire consequences. These splinters have the potential to cause serious internal injuries, ranging from punctures in the digestive system to severe obstructions. 

Moreover, small bones carry their own set of risks, notably a high choking hazard if good eating and chewing habits are not established.

The safety of a bone is significantly influenced by its size relevant to the dog, and whether it has been cooked, underscoring the importance for dog owners to carefully select bones that minimize health risks to their beloved pets.

How to safely give a dog a bone?

To ensure the safe enjoyment of bones, a few critical steps should be followed:

  • Supervision stands as a non-negotiable measure when your dog is indulging in a bone. Keeping a watchful eye ensures you can quickly intervene if signs of choking or distress emerge.

    This level of attentiveness is vital for preventing potential emergencies, allowing for prompt action to safeguard your dog's health.

    Beyond safety, supervision also offers a precious opportunity for bonding and gaining insights into your dog's chewing behaviors and preferences.

  • The importance of selecting a bone that is appropriate for your dog's size cannot be overstated.

    A bone that is too small can easily become a choking hazard, while one that is disproportionately large might lead to frustration or dental issues due to its unwieldy size.

    The perfect bone is one that encourages active chewing without the risk of being swallowed whole and is manageable for your dog to handle.

    Achieving this balance is key to ensuring your dog benefits from the positive aspects of bone chewing, such as improved dental health and mental engagement, without facing unnecessary risks.

What are the benefits of bones for dogs?

You can make homemade treats or give bones to your dog. Both can bring a wealth of benefits to them.  

Dental health through tartar removal

Bones are instrumental in promoting a dog's dental health by facilitating tartar removal. 

The natural action of chewing on bones creates friction that effectively scrapes away plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to periodontal diseases if ignored. This not only ensures cleaner teeth but also massages the gums, enhancing oral health. 

Regular inclusion of appropriate bones in a dog's diet can serve as an essential part of their dental hygiene routine, supporting a healthier mouth and fresher breath.

Mental stimulation and stress relief

In addition to physical health benefits, bones provide crucial mental stimulation for dogs. 

Engaging in the act of chewing can satisfy a dog's instinctual urges, offering a healthy outlet for their energy and curiosity. This mental engagement is vital for preventing boredom and its associated negative behaviors, such as destructive chewing or excessive barking. 

Moreover, chewing on bones can be a significant source of stress relief, allowing dogs to unwind and focus their attention on a rewarding activity. 

Through these mental health benefits, bones contribute to the overall emotional and psychological well-being of dogs, making them happier and more balanced pets.

Nutritional benefits of bones for dogs

Bones are a powerhouse of nutrition for our canine companions. 

Containing healthy fats through the skin, vitamins and minerals from the meat, and high calcium and phosphorus amounts from the bones themselves. Unless an alternative like bone meal is used, bones are an essential piece of any nutrient balanced raw food diet for dogs.

What are the signs of bone-related issues in dogs?

Identifying the signs of bone-related issues in dogs is essential for their safety and health. 

Symptoms such as choking or difficulty breathing may indicate a bone lodged in the throat, posing an immediate risk. 

Additionally, constipation or difficulty passing stool could signal an obstruction in the digestive system, potentially caused by ingested bone fragments. 

More severe signs include vomiting, lethargy, or abdominal pain, which could denote internal blockages needing urgent veterinary care. 

Strict monitoring and urgent action upon noticing these signs can be critical in preventing serious health complications, ensuring your dog's well-being.

How to choose the right bone for your dog?

Choosing the ideal bone for your dog hinges on understanding and considering their unique needs and behaviors. 

Consider your dog's size and chewing habits to ensure the bone is neither too small to pose a choking hazard nor too large to be overwhelming. 

It's also crucial to avoid bones from the butcher's counter, as these may splinter easily and are not always safe for all dogs. These are often referred to as “saw cut bones”.

By carefully selecting a bone that matches your dog's size, chewing style, and health requirements, you can provide a safe, enjoyable, and beneficial experience for your pet, promoting their dental health and offering valuable mental stimulation.

What to do if your dog has a bone-related issue?

If your dog encounters a bone-related complication, taking swift and appropriate action is crucial for their well-being. 

Initially, remove any remaining bone pieces to prevent further ingestion that could exacerbate the issue. Subsequently, monitor for signs of distress, such as difficulty breathing, choking, or unusual changes in bowel movements, as these can be indicators of a severe problem. 

Most critically, consult a veterinarian immediately if you notice any alarming symptoms or if there's no improvement in your dog's condition. 

Quick access to professional veterinary care is vital in managing potential risks like choking, intestinal blockages, or internal injuries, thereby ensuring the best possible care for your pet.

The Takeaway

Most dogs love to chew on bones, and there are definitely upsides to it - but downsides are possible as well. 

With proper monitoring of your dogs and also ensuring they are safely ingesting them, you can find the right bones to give them to gnaw at!


The information on Raw Feeding 101’s website and other media outlets is designed ONLY for educational and informational purposes. It is essential that you understand the statements and information provided on this website and its other outlets do not aim to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any diseases or illnesses. Raw Feeding 101 strongly insists that you consult with your veterinarian to discuss your dog’s medical care thoroughly.

Scott Marshall
Scott Marshall

Scott has been feeding a raw dog food diet for over 13 years. He lives in Utah with his wife Arianne, his 11.5 year old german shepherd Wolken, and his 2.5 year old labradoodle Montu. Scott has been teaching others about raw feeding since 2013, started Raw Feeding 101 in 2017, and has been solely focused on simplifying the process of pet parents meeting their dogs’ daily nutrient requirements since 2018.

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