Can Dogs Eat Bones? A Comprehensive Guide

Can dogs safely eat bones? Find out in this article, which explores the nutritional benefits of bones for dogs and offers tips on choosing the right type and size. Plus, learn how to monitor your dog while they're chewing to prevent any potential hazards.
Can Dogs Eat bones?

Overview of the topic

The short answer is yes, dogs can eat bones. In fact, bones can provide several nutritional benefits for dogs, including helping to maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, it is important to give your dog the right type and size of the bone and to monitor them while they are chewing to prevent any potential choking hazards or other issues.

Importance of understanding the benefits and risks of giving bones to dogs

As a dog owner, it is crucial to be informed about the advantages and potential risks associated with giving bones to your dog. In this article, we will discuss the nutritional benefits of bones for dogs, how to choose the appropriate bone, potential hazards, monitoring your dog while they chew, and some alternatives to bones.

Nutritional Benefits of Bones for Dogs

Protein and fat content

Bones are a natural source of protein and fat, which are essential components of a dog's diet. These nutrients help to support healthy muscles, skin, and coat.

Calcium and other essential minerals

Bones also provide a source of calcium and other vital minerals, including phosphorus and magnesium. These minerals contribute to the development and maintenance of your dog's skeletal system, muscles, and nervous system.

Dental health benefits

Plaque and tartar removal

Chewing on bones can help to scrape away plaque and tartar from your dog's teeth, promoting overall dental health. Keeping your dog's teeth clean can help prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

Strengthening of teeth and gums

Chewing on bones can also strengthen your dog's teeth and gums, reducing the risk of oral health issues in the long run.

Mental stimulation and behavioral benefits

Bones provide mental stimulation for dogs, keeping their minds active and engaged. Moreover, chewing on bones can serve as an outlet for their innate need to chew, preventing boredom and helping to minimize destructive behaviors.

Choosing the Right Type and Size of Bone for Your Dog

Unsafe bones for dogs

Cooked bones

Cooked bones are more likely to splinter and cause internal injuries, so they should be avoided.

Small, brittle bones

Small, brittle bones can easily break into sharp pieces, posing a choking hazard and increasing the risk of internal injury.

Safe bones for dogs

Raw bones

Raw bones are more pliable and less likely to cause harm compared to cooked bones.

Size-appropriate bones

Choose bones that are appropriately sized for your dog, with smaller bones for small dogs and larger bones for large dogs.

Examples for small dogs

For small dogs, try chicken necks, wings, or beef ribs.

Examples for large dogs

For large dogs, consider beef knuckle bones, whole lamb shanks, or turkey necks.

Duration of use and disposal

Dispose of the bone after three to four days of use, as bacteria can develop over time. Regularly replace bones to ensure freshness and cleanliness.

Potential Risks and Hazards of Giving Bones to Dogs

Choking hazards

Bones can pose a choking hazard, particularly if your dog is consuming a bone that is too small or brittle.

Splintering and internal injuries

As mentioned earlier, cooked bones and small, brittle bones can splinter and cause internal injuries.

Digestive issues

Some dogs may experience digestive upset or constipation from consuming bones.

Bacterial contamination

Raw bones may carry bacteria, such as salmonella, which can lead to illness in both your dog and humans in the household. Handling and storing raw bones properly can minimize these risks.

Monitoring Your Dog While They Are Chewing on Bones

Signs of distress or difficulty

Keep a close eye on your dog while they are chewing on a bone, looking out for any signs of distress or difficulty, such as gagging or excessive pawing at their mouth.

Appropriate intervention

If your dog appears to be struggling with the bone or seems uncomfortable, remove the bone immediately and consult with your veterinarian.

When to consult with a veterinarian

If your dog is vomiting, has diarrhea, is lethargic, or shows any other signs of illness after consuming a bone, contact your veterinarian right away.

Alternatives to Bones for Dogs

Dental chews and toys

Dental chews and toys designed specifically for dogs can also help clean their teeth while providing a safe chewing outlet.

Natural alternatives (e.g., antlers, bully sticks)

Natural alternatives like antlers and bully sticks can offer similar benefits to bones while posing fewer risks.

Homemade chew options

Some dog owners opt to create homemade chew toys using items like frozen carrot sticks, which can also help satisfy a dog's chewing instincts.


In conclusion, dogs can safely eat bones as long as the right type and size of bone is chosen and the dog is properly monitored while chewing. Bones can provide several nutritional benefits for dogs, including helping to maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, it is important to consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about giving your dog bones to chew on, and consider alternatives if necessary.

Medically Reviewed by Nauman Zaheer, DVM

Nauman Zaheer Ghumman, DVM is an MPhil qualified Licensed Veterinary Doctor with a wide range of academic writing experience, including published work in an International Veterinary journal and educational material for Pet owners.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Can Dogs Eat raw chicken bones?
Dangerous to Dogs
Ivana Crnec, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken Bones?

Do you ever wonder if raw chicken bones are safe for your furry friend to chew on? Find out the risks and dangers of feeding chicken bones to dogs in our comprehensive article.

Read More »
Can Dogs Eat lamb bones?
Dangerous to Dogs
Ivana Crnec, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Lamb Bones?

While bones can provide some nutritional benefits for dogs, the risks of feeding them lamb bones far outweigh any potential benefits. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any bones to make sure that they are getting the right balance of nutrients.

Read More »
Can Dogs Eat pork chop bones?
Safe for Dogs
Ibrar Ahmed, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Pork Chop Bones?

Dogs love bones, but can they safely eat chop bones? Find out the benefits of feeding bones to dogs and how to choose the right ones. Plus, learn about portion size and how to monitor your dog while they enjoy their favorite treat.

Read More »
Can Dogs Eat beef bones?
Dangerous to Dogs
Nauman Zaheer, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Beef Bones?

Is it safe for dogs to chew on beef bones? Read our article to find out the potential dangers and alternatives for giving your dog a tasty treat.

Read More »
Can Dogs Eat pork rib bones?
Not Recommended for Dogs
Ivana Crnec, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Pork Rib Bones?

It’s a common question: can dogs eat rib bones? Find out whether it’s safe for your furry friend to chow down on these tasty treats, and learn about safer alternatives.

Read More »
Can Dogs Eat turkey bones?
Dangerous to Dogs
Ivana Crnec, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Turkey Bones?

Turkey bones may seem like a natural treat for dogs, but they can actually be dangerous. Find out why and what to do if your dog has eaten them in our latest article.

Read More »
Can Dogs Eat ham bones?
Dangerous to Dogs
Nauman Zaheer, DVM

Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones?

Want to give your dog a special treat? Think twice before giving them a ham bone – they may be dangerous for your furry friend. Read our article to learn more.

Read More »