Bones & Chews?
Before giving your dog a bone or chew there are several things you need to take into consideration. Two rules to follow anytime you give your dog any type of bone or chew; make sure the item is safe for your dog, and always supervise. First consider your dog’s chew style. There are aggressive chewers, gnawers, and scarfer’s. With aggressive chewers it’s recommended to not give them anything hard because aggressive chewers are prone to fracture teeth, throat or esophagus obstructions, intestine obstruction, and inflammation of the GI tract. Scarfer’s will attempt to swallow large chucks of bones, and chews when the item gets chewed down to a small size which can result in throat or esophagus obstructions, intestine obstruction, and inflammation of the GI tract.
Bones and chews fall into three general categories.
· Recreational Bones – femur bones (marrowbones), knucklebones
· Edible Bones – whole or coarsely ground chicken wings/turkey necks only
· Chews – great variety marketed from natural, processed, to plastic
Recreational bones are intended to be gnawed on and not eaten. The gnawing of the bone helps wear down plaque and tartar on teeth over a period of time as the dog works on the bone. These bones do not provide significant dietary nutrition for dogs. These bones should be raw, and not processed. Bones processed so they don’t spoil at room temperature becomes more brittle and fractures easier. Unprocessed raw bones should only be given to the dog thawed and not frozen. Raw bones will be in the refrigerator section or freezer and not on a store shelve at room temperature. Bones should be large enough to not fit inside the dog’s mouth so as to avoid them forcefully chopping down with a strong vertical bite force breaking small pieces that can be swallowed, or breaking teeth.
Many Vets’ advice never giving dogs bones because of:
- Throat or Esophagus Obstructions
- Fractured Teeth
- Intestine Obstruction
- Bacterial Contamination
- Inflammation of the GI Tract
Edible Bones – are hollow, non-weight bearing bones of birds (e.g.,necks and wings, not legs). These are soft, and pliable and do not contain marrow. These edible bones provide calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals that are often feed as part of a balanced raw food diet.
Dogs that will swallow them whole should not be given whole edible bones. Fracturing the edible bones with a mallet first and feeding small bite sized pieces can minimize the risk.
Chews – variety of products - tendons, bully sticks, pig ears, hooves, nylon/plastic, etc…
Chews I Don’t Recommend
· Nylon favored Chews – (not intended to be eaten – but often ingested)
· Rawhide – chemically processed - higher choking risk – GI track obstructions
· Antlers - potential for tooth fracture
· Hooves – sharp and brittle – oral trauma, GI track obstructions
These may be appropriate for some dogs (always supervise your dog)
• Recreational Bones – unprocessed knucklebones for soft chewers who gnaws
• Edible Bones – whole or coarsely ground chicken wings/turkey necks
• Himalayan Dog Chew – not long lasting for aggressive chewers
• Vital Essentials - Turkey Necks – (freezed-dried)
• Vital Essentials - Salmon Skins – (freezed-dried)
• Honest Kitchen Beams - Dried Fish Skins
• Qwizl – stuffed with quality food or treats
• Tux – stuffed with quality food or treats
• Tizzi - stuffed with quality food or treats
Don’t give - Cooked Bones - these are subject to splintering
Don’t give - Frozen Bones - these are harder than the dog’s teeth
Don’t give - Chicken Bones - these easily splinter causing obstructions
Don’t give - Turkey Bones - these easily splinter causing obstructions
Don’t give - Fish Bones - these can cause intestinal obstructions
Don’t give - Pork Bones - these can splinter causing obstruction
As a general rule I do not give my dogs anything harder than their teeth since they have broken teeth. Treat dispensing toys are a great way to stimulate and engage all your dog’s senses. There are all types available but choose those items that are sturdy, well made, and relatively easy to clean. There are two types; dry kibble treat dispensing, and products that can be used to stuff and/or freeze treats inside. The rubber Kong was probably the first popular dog toy people stuffed with differing foods treats to keep dogs entertained. Kong’s are a longtime favorite for many dogs but some dogs’ loose interest quickly because the treats inside can be difficult to get. My favorites are Qwizl’s, and Tux. Although nothing is indestructible with aggressive chewers these toys are among the best, made in the USA and are easy to clean. Dog toys help to reduce boredom, stress, and frustration for dogs and puppies. Safe dog toys assist with reducing stress, anxiety, and frustration and behaviors such as, barking, jumping, spinning, chewing, among others. Boredom and loneliness are sources of excessive stress for both dogs and cats.
For a special treat you can save the bones and simmer them in water to make a mineral-rich stock that you can share with your dog. (Drain the stock and throw out the bones) https://youtu.be/lI-vo8td7ME