Give a dog a bone?

Having consumed a large piece of lamb this weekend, we decided to give Lily the bone to chew on. But while I watched her have the time of her life, I began to wonder how safe meat bones really are.

After some extensive research, this seems to be the prevailing opinion:

Cooked vs. raw

Cooked bones may splinter, damaging stomach and intestines, so raw bones are preferable. However, raw bones can contain bacteria. It is possible to lower the risk of bacterial growth by soaking in vinegar or rinsing the bone after use and then leaving it in a fridge over night.

Chicken bones

I personally avoid chicken bones having read some horrible stories, but it seems as though others do feed raw chicken bones to dogs. Unfortunately, there is always the risk of salmonella and chicken bones are known for splintering, so the prevailing opinion is that they are not worth the risk

Rawhide bones

Of course, these aren’t real bones. However, if you’re nervous about feeding your dog bones but still want them to benefit from chewing then this may be the way to go. They provide great exercise for the jaw and don’t leave a mess. Do make sure you keep an eye on your dog though; apparently rawhide doesn’t dissolve in the intestines and so don’t let them swallow large amounts.

The benefits of bones

There are very mixed opinions on whether bones benefit dogs in any way. Some argue that they’re good for teeth and cure boredom, others argue that the risk of swallowing is too high and can lead to damage to the dog. Some feed dogs bones for years with no problem, others have terrible stories of chewing-gone-wrong.

My advice?

Well, it seems as though it’s entirely a matter of choice. There are so many opinions, even amongst veterinary professionals, that it’s impossible to know what’s right. Try visiting your vet and asking for their opinion. After that, it’s up to you. But if you do decide to give your dog a bone make sure you supervise. Just in case.