“Give a dog a bone” — a common saying we’ve all heard, but in reality, should you satisfy those pitiful eyes begging you for your leftover bone from dinner?
We all know dogs consider a bone a prized possession, but how do you know which bones are safe, and what do you do if your dog eats a bone that’s not safe? What time of year are people most tempted to feed their dogs a bone, and which states are most interested?
Find out all the answers to your questions and more in our comprehensive guide to safe bones for dogs.
Perhaps the answer here will not surprise you, but according to Google Trend data for the past five years, internet searches for “can dogs eat bones” spikes each year at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Sure there are steady searches all year round, but the holiday season seems to bring out the giving in all of us! Just make sure you are giving a treat that is pup-safe before you hand it over.
Which States Ask Can Dogs Eat Bones Most Often?
The state showing the most interest in feeding Fido a bone is Arizona. And the Grand Canyon staters interest is growing rapidly with almost double the searches during Thanksgiving week in 2018 than ever before!
Right behind AZ, you will find a lot of dog owners in Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Washington asking Google whether it is safe to feed bones to dogs.
When you look at the map overall, you will find a lot fewer searches in the middle of the country than along the coasts and neighboring states. There must be some pretty satiated dogs in AZ, UT, CO, OK, and WA after their recent feast and the pending one in three weeks!
This data identified the most popular dog bone-related Google search term: “can dogs eat bones.” Then we submitted that term to Google Trends for a recent five year period (2013-2018) to find out which time of year had the most searches and which states had the most Google searches for that term during that time frame.
Although it depends on the type of animal bone, you should follow some general rules when considering giving your dog this “treat”.
- Raw vs cooked: Can dogs eat raw (uncooked) bones? Most veterinary experts agree that it’s much safer to give your dog raw bones than cooked bones. Cooking causes bones to soften and increases the risk of bones splintering when chewed. Raw bones are also an excellent source of minerals and vitamins. However, raw bones may contain bacteria that cause food-borne disease, so talk with your vet about how to handle the bones safely to prevent illness in you and your dog.
- Bone size: Opt for large, thick bones rather than small or narrow bones. Dogs are less likely to chew down large bones into shards and smaller pieces they can swallow.
- Existing digestive problems: If your dog suffers from digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome or frequent diarrhea, then it’s a good idea to take all bones off the table. Bone marrow is extremely rich and can exacerbate these problems.
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Can dogs eat cooked beef bones? There’s been some disagreement among veterinary experts in the past on this issue, but the general consensus is that cooked bones, regardless of the type, are not good for dogs. Talk with your vet about feeding your dog cooked beef bones.
Can dogs eat cooked chicken bones (or raw, for that matter)? The consensus on chicken bones of any kind is a resounding NO. Why? Chicken bones, especially when cooked, easily break and splinter. This can cause your dog to choke from bones getting caught in their throat.
Even worse, the sharp, splintered bones can puncture your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, which not only can cause extreme pain and infection but can also lead to death if not treated immediately.
Turkey bones splinter easily like chicken bones. So, feeding turkey bones of any kind (raw or cooked) is not recommended.
Like chicken bones, veterinary experts typically agree that pork bones aren’t safe, whether they’re cooked or raw. This includes pork ribs, ham bones, and pork chop bones. The adverse health effects can be the same as you’d see with chicken bones.
Lamb bones are more similar to beef bones in their density. So, follow the same rules as for beef bones. Raw is better but cooked is okay if the lamb bone is large and thick.
We all try to be responsible pet parents, but pups can be sneaky and steal a bone off a plate or counter when you turn your back for a second. So, let’s say your crafty canine ate cooked chicken bones. What do you do? Stay calm and follow these steps:
- If you catch your dog in the act, try to take the bones away before he gobbles them all down.
- Make sure they are not choking (see the video below for how to help a choking dog).
- Call your veterinarian to see if they have any immediate suggestions. Some vets recommend giving your dog a few pieces of white bread to help cushion their GI tract.1 Every situation is different, however, so be sure to call your vet asap.
- If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, go to your vet right away: vomiting, lethargy, abdominal bloating, not eating, constipation or straining to defecate, or bloody stool.
- Check your dog’s stool for a few days to see if the bone fragments passed through.
- If you haven’t seen the bones in his stool within 3-4 days, visit your vet to make sure the bones aren’t stuck in your dog’s GI tract.1
The injuries resulting from damage to a dog’s intestinal tract could require expensive surgery. Pet insurance is an excellent way to protect yourself against the unexpected, helping you pay for sudden veterinary emergencies.
When in doubt, you can reference this handy infographic we created that summarizes tips about dogs eating bones.
If your dog is choking on a bone (or anything else), be sure to watch this brief video that illustrated how to help him right away until you can get him to your vet.
If you’ve been in the habit of feeding your dog table scraps or giving them “human food,” stop what you’re doing and read our article telling you what foods are toxic to dogs right away. You might be surprised at the number of foods dogs should never eat. You might also check out our rawhide alternatives article for some safe options for your dog to chew on.
Do you give your dog bones?
Sources:  American Kennel Club