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Are Bones Safe for Dogs? The Dos and Donts

Are Bones Safe for Dogs? The Dos and Donts

Are Bones Safe for Dogs? The Dos and Don’ts

The Bone of Contention

As a dog parent, one of the most common questions I grapple with is whether bones are safe for my furry companion. It’s a conundrum that can keep even the most seasoned dog owners up at night, myself included. After all, our pups seem to love chewing on those crunchy, tasty morsels, but the risks of potential dental damage or digestive issues can be enough to make any responsible dog parent think twice.

Recently, my own dog, Buddy, a rambunctious Golden Retriever, had a bit of a scare. He managed to crack a couple of his top incisors while enthusiastically gnawing on a bone, sending me into a panic. When I rushed him to the vet, they advised me to steer clear of bones altogether, citing the potential for serious dental harm. But, as I soon discovered, the story doesn’t end there.

Uncovering the Nuances of Bone Safety

After my initial vet visit, I decided to dig a little deeper and explore the opinions of other dog owners and experts. What I found was a fascinating dialogue that revealed the complexities around bones and dog health.

On the popular r/dogs subreddit, for instance, I stumbled upon a thread where fellow pet parents were grappling with this very issue. One user shared their vet’s recommendation to avoid bones completely, while others chimed in with contrasting experiences. As they discussed, the key seems to lie in understanding the nuances – the age and size of the dog, the type of bone, and the individual chewing habits.

Further research led me to resources like Tomlinson’s Feed, which provided a comprehensive guide on navigating the world of bones and hard chews. They emphasized the importance of considering factors like the dog’s age, size, and chewing power when selecting the appropriate bone or chew toy.

Navigating the Dos and Don’ts of Bones

Armed with this newfound knowledge, I realized that the answer to the bone safety question isn’t a simple yes or no. It’s a delicate balance that requires a deeper understanding of your canine companion’s needs and habits.

Let’s dive into the dos and don’ts of bones for our four-legged friends:


  • Choose age-appropriate bones: Soft or medium-hardness bones are ideal for puppies and senior dogs, whose teeth may be more fragile.
  • Match the bone size to your dog’s size: The bone should not fit entirely in your dog’s mouth, as this increases the risk of choking.
  • Observe your dog’s chewing habits: If your pup is an aggressive chewer, steer clear of hard bones like antlers and water buffalo horns, as these can potentially crack their teeth.
  • Consider alternative chews: Bully sticks, rawhide bones, and even frozen treats can satisfy your dog’s natural urge to chew without the risks associated with bones.
  • Monitor your dog during chewing sessions: Keep a close eye on your pup to ensure they’re not swallowing large chunks or experiencing any distress.


  • Avoid cooked bones: These can become brittle and splinter, potentially causing internal injuries if swallowed.
  • Steer clear of weight-bearing bones: The dense structure of these bones, such as femurs and knuckles, can be too hard for your dog’s teeth.
  • Don’t leave your dog unsupervised with a bone: Even the most well-behaved pups can get over-enthusiastic and end up in trouble.
  • Refrain from giving bones to dogs with dental issues: If your dog has any existing dental problems, it’s best to avoid bones altogether to prevent further complications.

Striking the Right Balance

In the end, the decision to give bones to your dog is a personal one that requires careful consideration. While bones can provide mental stimulation, dental benefits, and a satisfying chewing experience, the risks of dental damage and digestive issues cannot be ignored.

As a responsible dog parent, I’ve found that striking the right balance is key. By following the dos and don’ts outlined above, and staying vigilant during chewing sessions, I’ve been able to safely incorporate bones into Buddy’s routine without compromising his health and wellbeing.

And you know what? He’s one happy, healthy pup. After all, at the end of the day, our dogs’ happiness and safety are what matter most.

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