can dogs digest beef bones

Raw chicken, lamb, or beef bones are safe for dogs to chew. They are soft enough that there is little risk of the bones fracturing into harmful pieces, and your dog should be able to digest the bone easily. Of course, you should always keep an eye on your dog while chewing the bone, just to be sure.

It’s the oldest cliché in the book: Dogs love to chew on bones. But the FDA is warning that this time-honored tradition could be dangerous—and even deadly—for dogs.

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Dr. Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

The FDA doesn’t make clear whether their warning extends to all bones or just cooked bones, so I’ll assume for purposes of the information I’m about to give you they’re discussing only bones from food that has been cooked.

The cooking process makes bones more brittle, increasing the likelihood they might splinter and cause internal injury to your dog. Cooking can also remove the nutrition contained in bones. In their April 20, 2010 Consumer Update, the FDA lists the following risks associated with giving your dog a cooked bone to chew:

Raw bones can be both safe and healthy providing you follow some guidelines which I’ll discuss shortly. You’re probably aware your dog’s ancestors and counterparts in the wild have been eating bones forever. Canines in their natural habitat eat prey, including the meat, bones and stomach contents. In fact, your pup has a biological requirement for the nutrients found in bone marrow and the bones themselves.

Dogs love to chew raw bones for the yummy taste, the mental stimulation, and also because all that gnawing is great exercise for the muscles of the jaw.

At my clinic, Natural Pet Animal Hospital, we recommend to all our dog parents that they separate bones into two categories:

Edible bones are the hollow, non weight-bearing bones of birds (typically chicken wings and chicken and turkey necks). They are soft, pliable, do not contain marrow, and can be easily crushed in a meat grinder. These bones provide calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals which can be an essential part of your pup’s balanced raw food diet.

Recreational bones – big chunks of beef or bison femur or hip bones filled with marrow — don’t supply significant dietary nutrition for your dog (they are not designed to be chewed up and swallowed, only gnawed on), but they do provide mental stimulation and are great for your pup’s oral health.

When your dog chews on a raw recreational bone, especially a meaty one with cartilage and soft tissue still attached, his teeth get the equivalent of a good brushing and flossing. This helps to break down tartar and reduces the risk of gum disease. Dogs in the wild have beautiful teeth and healthy gums. This is because the prey they eat requires a lot of chewing, and the sinewy composition helps to clean each entire tooth.

The health risks listed above for cooked bones can also apply to recreational raw bones if your dog has unrestricted, unsupervised access to them. The following are do’s and don’ts for feeding recreational raw bones (and yes, they have to be raw, not steamed, boiled or baked):

Do supervise your dog closely while he’s working on a bone. That way you can react immediately if your pup happens to choke, or if you notice any blood on the bone or around your dog’s mouth from over aggressive gnawing.

You’ll also know when your dog has chewed down to the hard brittle part of a knuckle bone, making splinters more likely. When the bone has been gnawed down in size throw it out. Do not allow your dog to chew it down to a small chunk he can swallow.

Do separate dogs in a multi-dog household before feeding bones. Dogs can get quite territorial about bones and some dogs will fight over them.

Do feed fresh raw bones in your dog’s crate, or on a towel or other surface you can clean, or outside as long as you can supervise him. Fresh raw bones become a gooey, greasy mess until your dog has gnawed them clean, so make sure to protect your flooring and furniture.

Don’t give them to your dog if she has a predisposition to pancreatitis. Raw bone marrow is very rich and can cause diarrhea and a flare-up of pancreatitis. Instead, you can feed a “low fat” version by thawing the bone and scooping out the marrow to reduce the fat content.

Don’t give a recreational bone to a dog that’s likely to try to swallow it whole or bite it in two and eat it in huge chunks.

My pit bulls tried to do this the first time I fed them recreational raw bones – they bit them in two and tried to eat both halves whole. So I got knuckle bones the approximate size of their heads, and they couldn’t open their jaws wide enough to bite down and crack off big chunks of the bones. Over time, I trained them to chew smaller femur bones less aggressively.

You should be able to find raw knuckle bones at your local butcher shop or the meat counter of your supermarket (labeled as ‘soup bones’). When you get the bones home, store them in the freezer and thaw one at a time before feeding to your pup. I also recommend giving your dog a bone to chew after she’s full from a meal. Hungry dogs are more tempted to swallow a bone whole or break it apart and swallow large chunks. This increases the risk of an obstruction in the digestive tract.

If one of the above conditions prevents you from offering raw bones to your dog, consider a softer alternative: a high quality, edible dental bone. A fully digestible, high quality dental dog chew provides mechanical abrasion to help control plaque and tartar, and is similar to the effect of eating whole, raw food in the wild.

Many popular chew bones cannot be broken down, and if your pup swallows one whole, or a large enough portion of one, there’s always a risk of intestinal blockage. In addition, most traditional dog chews contain unhealthy ingredients like gelatin, artificial sweeteners, and other additives and preservatives that are potentially cancer causing.

I highly recommend a high quality dog dental bone, that is 100 percent natural and contain absolutely no corn, soy, gluten, extra fat or sugar, or animal byproducts.

Whether you go with raw bones, a high quality dog dental bone, or a combination, the important thing to remember is your canine family member is designed to chew. She needs your help to insure she gets regular opportunities to brush and floss as nature intended, and to exercise those jaw muscles.

My husband and I were able to go away for the fourth of July. We were very concerned about leaving …

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Choosing The Right Breed

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We’ve all heard the phrase “give a dog a bone,” but you might want to consider alternative treats to dog bones.

Bones can be a good source of minerals and other nutrients and help satisfy your dog’s appetite. Chewing stimulates saliva enzymes and helps prevent plaque buildup on teeth and gum disease. And a dog chewing on a bone is less inclined to excessively scratch or lick their paws.

However, chewing bones can pose potential dangers to dogs. If you’re considering giving your dog a bone, consider whether it’s the right treat for your pet.

Put the Bone in the Fridge After 10 to 15 Minutes

After your dog has spent 10 to 15 minutes chewing on the bone, take it away and put it in the refrigerator. Dogs have powerful jaws, and you don’t want your dog to ingest too much bone.

Bones Can Irritate Canine Stomachs

A bone and its marrow can cause diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Bones could also further irritate already sensitive stomachs.

Raw chicken, lamb, or beef bones are safe for dogs to chew. They are soft enough that there is little risk of the bones fracturing into harmful pieces, and your dog should be able to digest the bone easily. Of course, you should always keep an eye on your dog while chewing the bone, just to be sure.

FAQ

Do beef bones dissolve in dog’s stomach?

Unlike hyenas, and some other wild dogs, domestic dogs cannot digest bone as the acidity of their stomach is not sufficient to facilitate the dissolution of bone. Even raw bones can cause problems as, in pet dogs, bits of bone can become stuck in the digestive tract causing obstruction or worse.

What happens if a dog eats a beef bone?

Dogs should not eat cooked rib bones, T-bone steak bones, or other cooked bones like pork bones or chicken bones. As your dog chews on a cooked bone, it can crack and break. These small pieces of bone fragments can damage your dog’s digestive system and cause serious health problems.

How long does it take for a dog to digest a beef bone?

How long does it take a dog to digest a steak bone? If your dog happens to eat some of its steak bone, it could take anywhere from 8-24 hours to pass through the digestive system.

Are beef bones safe for dogs?

Bones to give your dog Most raw bones that have not been cooked are edible for dogs. Raw chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef bones are soft enough to chew, eat, and digest.

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