To bone or not to bone…

Innocent topic!  I swear. We are talking about dog bones and whether pet owner’s should be giving them  OR not.

In my years of practices, I’ve seen an average of 20-30% of dog owners giving bones to their animals (in Australia). This statistics is much higher in Singapore, with an avg of 40-50% of Asian clients giving bones to their pets (home cooked diet seems preferred in Singapore). Amongst those pet owners, at least 60% of client’s were TOLD to give dog bones by the breeders they purchased their dogs’ from.

As an emergency veterinarian, I often only see patients if they are unwell/ sick (except for routine vaccinations that is). And I can’t even begin to tell you the number of patients I’ve seen presenting with bone related problems.

Sure. I can appreciate some of the advantages bone provision can do- such as providing enrichment to ease boredom- yes a large marrow bone could probably entertain your dog for several hours in a day and for dental hygiene purposes.
That being said, there are also several alternatives I can list that will be able to provide the same benefits as a bone.

Giving the dog a bone can result in the following consequences (non-exhaustive list)

  • Pancreatitis
  • HGE (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis)
  • Vomiting/ Diarrhoea
  • Bone impaction
  • Perforation
  • Obstipation
  • Abdominal discomfort/ pain
  • Decreased gut motility and secondary problems
  • Choking
  • Tooth/teeth fractures
  • Not forgetting the financial cost associated with having to seek medical treatment due to the above problems!

In my years as a veterinarian, I have performed dozens of exploratory  laparotomies in cats and dogs alike, removing impacted bones.In severe cases, sections of intestines had to be removed due to bone perforations. I have had several repeat offenders (one had a total of 3 abdominal surgery by her first birthday).

I remember seeing this adorable staffy that had frank blood dripping from her bum for 2 days before the client presented her to us. She had a large shard of bone stuck in her rectum and the straining  had result in severe injury and tear to her anus. Due to financial restrictions,we were unable to sedate her and I can still vividly remember her cries when I had to manually remove that bone with heavily lubricated gloves.

A quick google of dog bones will probably give you multiple differing opinions with regards to whether one should or should not do the above. And we aren’t even going to go into the topic of the BARF diet.
However I believe the general veterinary profession will stand by the fact that bones (raw or cooked) should NOT be given to pets.

Dee, trying to carry as many toys as her mouth can carry.

P.S. Our domestic dogs are NOT wolves, and they are as closed to wolves as we humans are to chimpanzees.

P.P.S. IF you really HAVE to give your dog a bone, make sure its a large raw one that they are unable to swallow whole. Cooked bones are indeed more brittle and there are higher risks associated with them.

5 thoughts on “To bone or not to bone…

Add yours

  1. We don’t, that’s for sure! Not only all of the above dangers, but with two cats in the house also, potential fights over dogeen defending the bone are best avoided.
    I’ve recently been turned off rawhide after seeing how it is made – another good post idea if you haven’t done it already. Nasty stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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