Can Dogs Eat Bones? The Ultimate Guide To What’s Safe And What’s Not

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Dog eating bone“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.

Article Overview

What Time Of Year Are People Most Likely To Feed Bones To Dogs?

Perhaps the answer here will not surprise you, but according to Google Trend data for the past 5 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 safe for your pup before you hand it over.

What Time Of Year Are People Most Likely To Feed Bones To Dogs Map

Which States Ask Can Dogs Eat Bones Most Often?

The state that shows the most interest in feeding Fido a bone is Arizona and the interest from these Grand Canyon staters is growing rapidly with almost double the searches during Thanksgiving week this year (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!

Which States Ask Can Dogs Eat Bones Most Often Map


This data was composed by identifying the most popular dog bone-related Google search term: “can dogs eat bones.” Then we submitted that term to Google Trends for the past 5 years 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.

What Types Of Bones Can Dogs Eat? General Rules Of Thumb

Although it depends on the type of animal bone, there are some general rules you should follow when considering giving your dog a bone.

  • Raw vs cooked: Can dogs eat raw bones? Most experts agree that it’s much safer to give your dog raw bones than cooked. 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.
  • 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 stomach problems: If your dog suffers from stomach issues, irritable bowel, 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.

Beef Bones

One of the most frequent questions we see is, “can dogs eat beef rib bones?” Yes, as long as they’re large. Beef bones are naturally harder than most other types of animal bones, making them more difficult for dogs to break down. Can dogs eat steak bones? The same rule applies as with rib bones.

Can dogs eat cooked beef bones? There’s been some disagreement among experts in the past on this issue, but the consensus these days is that cooked beef bones are acceptable if they’re large enough.

Chicken 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 his 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

Turkey bones splinter easily like chicken bones and are not recommended raw or cooked.

Pork Bones

Like chicken bones, 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’ll see with chicken bones.

Lamb Bones

Lamb bones are more similar to beef bones in their density. So, follow the same rules as beef bones. Raw is better but cooked is okay if it’s large and thick.

What Do I Do If My Dog Eats A Bad Bone?

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:

Immediate Steps

  • If you catch your dog in the act, try to take away the bones before he gobbles them all down.
  • Make sure he’s 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 his GI tract.1 Every situation is different, however so be sure to call your vet asap.

Watch Your Dog Closely

Ingesting chicken bones doesn’t necessarily lead to any problems, but it’s crucial to keep a close eye on your dog for the next several days to make sure he’s in the clear.

  • 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 still within 3-4 days, see 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.

Can Dogs Eat Bones Infographic

When in doubt, you can reference this handy infographic we created that summarizes tips about dogs eating bones.

Can Dogs Eat Bones Infographic

To share this infographic on your site, simply copy and paste the code below:

How To Help A Choking Dog

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.

What Other Foods Should I Keep Away From My Dog?

If you’ve been in the habit of feeding your dog table scraps or giving him “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.

Do you give your dog bones?

Sources: [1] American Kennel Club

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets).

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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Felix Castro
March 31, 2020 4:40 am

Where did you get this nonsense from ? Uncooked bones are fine to give dogs.

If you are going to write about dogs and bones at least be right. bones are fine to feed. You might be at it from Dr.Lew Olson’s book ” Raw and Natural Nutrition For Dogs “. Dogs are designed to thrive on bones , organs , fat, and muscle meat.

Alice Carroll
February 14, 2020 3:19 pm

I recently handed my dog a piece of beef bone to help with teething. It’s great to know from this article that that’s one of the safest bones to give to a dog, but after she was done with it she had lost appetite for two meals straight before going back to normal. Maybe I should get her checked by a vet just in case the bone might have caused something in her appetite.

February 12, 2020 7:28 am

I have read a lot about what I can and can’t feed my German shepherd. In the book “give a dog a bone” it highly recommends raw chicken and raw chicken bones to start a dog on bones as they are smaller and easier to eat. As a pup I gave her wings and thighs to get her started.
The book says that a raw chicken carcass is the perfect raw food for meat to bone ratio. My dog eats raw chicken carcasses, wings and bones that the butcher considers waste (and dog friendly) and my dog seems to love them. I also feed turkey neck, whole pheasants/ducks, beef/lamb/deer ribs…
It is a concern that you say it is 100% bad to feed raw chicken bones without scientific evidence, quoting in response to another poster an article which is also just opinion and no proof – I even buy human grade chicken legs and thighs for her if I am out of food as this seems a very common food for shepherds.

If she was trying to survive outside, and she killed and ate a chicken (like a fox would) you are implying it is dangerous for them. I can’t see logically how it would be, since a chicken seems a perfect meal for this carnivore. A dogs gut is short and has a very acidic stomach, there is no trace of bone in her stools. If she was to eat a complete vegetable it comes out whole (pieces of corn, carrot, broccoli) as she can’t digest it, these need to be blended to be digested.

To summarise – my dog seems to slice through raw bone like butter, chicken beef lamb turkey deer pheasant duck…doesn’t matter. Never fed her pork due to worms risk. She doesn’t eat whole mackerels, but salmon is a winner.

If you can share proof/evidence then I am open to study it, but countless “experts” and anecdotal evidence points to chicken being an excellent food source for a dog on a raw diet.

I’ve also been told not to let my dog play with golf balls or tennis balls for risk of choking, which is a great example of rubbish spouted by a GSD trainer

February 12, 2020 7:31 am
Reply to  Alpha

Just to add she has eaten pork trotter, the cured kind from a pet shop, but it doesn’t seem healthy!

October 9, 2019 3:29 am

Hi there,

I don’t think we should give our dogs bones. Bones are simply a choking hazard. The shards could get stuck in the stomachs and the intestinal tracks. That would be a problem for the dog owner and his dog.

October 18, 2019 11:52 pm
Reply to  AnnieTheGolden

It depends on the dog. I have always brought steak bones to all of my dogs over the years, from pugs to labs, never had an issue. If you’re worried just keep an eye on them, its a great snack. I wash mine thoroughly to remove the seasonings and butter, then throw it in the freezer overnight for a great outside treat. Large beef bones don’t splinter quickly or easily.

January 5, 2019 2:07 pm

“states most likely to feed bones to dogs” may be misleading. Seems like these states just Google what owners in the other 45 states just do. This might mean owners in these five states end up being LEAST likely to feed a bone to their dogs. Or am I missing something?

Dr. C. A. Brownback
December 18, 2018 7:01 pm

Hello. I think you might want to actually research the subjects you purport to be an authority on. What is being referred to specifically is the raw chicken bones.
Your answer:…’a resounding NO…’. This is patently false and from my experiencial lexicon total fear mongering. If you canvas multiple sites on the Web as well as vets, they state exactly the opposite. Cooking chicken bones DOES NOT soften them, as you pontificate, it bakes them brittle. A Dog can digest raw chicken bones even if they are whole.
Thank you for your time, I will no longer be using this site if I have any queries in regards to my pet, or if any associates ask for referrals.

July 24, 2018 5:32 pm


gerry lim
April 16, 2020 9:56 am
Reply to  Taylor

I have been feeding my dogs roasted chicken bones for 12 years now, never experience choking. In fact, they can’t chew up large beef bones & left it behind after consuming only the tendons.