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Family meals, especially around the excess of holiday feasts and gatherings, are often tempting times to share the bones of your leftovers with your dog. But is that a good idea? Even if you aren’t sure, is your pup’s best begging face too much for you to bear?
The short answer: when in doubt, just stick to other healthy dog treats you are probably already cooking with. Bones can be dangerous.
The long answer: there are a few different things you must consider. Let’s look at bones as dog treats from a medical perspective.
There’s a reason for the human diet trend lately of buying or making “bone broth”. Bones can provide some minerals and other nutrients. The caveat, is that cooking reduces that anyway, so you probably aren’t sharing as much nutrition with your dog as you think. Add to that the fact that cooked bones are risky business anyway.
You might end up rushing your dog into emergency surgery because of this. Cooked bones of any kind are far more likely to splinter and break as they are chewed than raw bones. This is extremely dangerous. Bone shards can injure the mouth, throat, stomach, and/or intestines. They can become stuck which quickly escalates into a life-threatening situation, not to mention a painful one.
Poultry and pork bones are especially dangerous because of splintering. Steer clear of these completely. There is no safe poultry or pork bone that you can share with your pet.
Raw bones are both more nutritious and less likely to splinter, depending on the type of bone. The only kinds of raw bones that are generally considered to be safe from splintering are beef and lamb.
But, again, the caveats:
Keep in mind that raw animal products bear an increased risk of bacteria like salmonella causing illness.
Also, never give a dog any bone that is small enough to swallow. Many dogs will surprise you with what they seem to find an appropriate size of item to swallow, so it’s up to you to make that call regardless of the type of treat you are giving them. Bones must be large enough that there is no risk of this.
Keep an eye on your dog anytime they are given a chew treat. Dogs can choke, just like people can.