Bones; to feed or not to feed

dog with bone

Recently at our Pukekohe branch, we have seen a string of patients presenting for the myriad of problems that can arise from feeding bones to our pooches. There is a lot of information that circulates about on the internet around the pros and cons of feeding bones. In our experience a lot of the time they can cause more harm than good.

The dogs in the photos below display a few of these!

  1. The first patient managed to wedge the whole canon bone behind his lower canines and around his jaw. We ended up having to use a dental bur ( small drill-like instrument ) to cut away both sides of the bone and pry it open. He was very lucky that no teeth were damaged as a result.
  2. Our second patient wasn't so lucky and ended up with one of the most common problems seen with chewing hard bones: tooth fracture. This causes the pulp ( nerve endings and blood vessels ) to become exposed to the environment causing intense dental pain and risk of infection, therefore requiring removal of the entire tooth.
  3. The last patient has a shard of bone stuck between his big molars on the roof of his mouth. These cases require sedation and manual removal of the bone, as well as careful examination and cleaning of the mouth, as the sharp bony ends can cause serious damage to the gum and even the teeth, which if severe enough can require surgical extraction.

Aside from these problems, we also commonly see stomach upsets, constipation and occasionally obstructions caused by bones becoming lodged within the stomach or small intestine. This can require intensive abdominal surgery to remove and if left untreated can result in death. In fact, the most common cause of constipation in dogs is feeding bones, and one of the most common causes of tears to the intestine is feeding sharp-edged lamb bones. There are few things less deadly to feed your dog than lamb bones, so we highly recommend that you don't do it.

Please think twice about feeding your dogs bones and be aware of the risks. There are plenty of safer chew toy or treat options available, which can provide the same mental enrichment to your furry friend. If you have any questions about which are best, just ask our friendly customer service or nursing team at your next vet visit.

Dr. Katie Meadows BVSc - Pet Vet at Pukekohe

The dangers of bones


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