FOOD & TREATS

Cooked Bones for Dogs: Safe or Not?

Cooked Bones for Dogs
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

There are many pet owners who still believe that feeding cooked bones to their dogs is completely fine. They also believe that cooked bones are natural and healthy and that dogs simply love chewing on them. It is true that a dog will most likely chew on a cooked bone, but that does not mean that it is healthy or safe for him.

However, cooked bones are unsafe no matter what their size or origin, and they can not only hurt your dog’s internal organs but also lead him to experience an agonizing death. There are some vets that believe that raw bones are unsafe too, and this article will provide you with some of the facts related to the consequences of feeding cooked bones to your pets and the benefits of switching to raw bones.

The consequences of feeding cooked bones

If you have been wondering whether dogs can eat cooked bones, then you should know that yes, they can, but they certainly should not. That is because cooked bones have no nutritional value and they are dangerous because they can splinter and pierce your pet’s internal organs which can lead to death.

Canine teeths

When you cook a bone, its structure changes, which makes it become indigestible and breakable. There is not even one benefit of feeding cooked bones to your dog. That means that the dog can just harm himself by trying to chew on the bone that can potentially kill him.

Some of the consequences of feeding cooked bones to dogs are:

  • Your dog can easily break his teeth by trying to stubbornly chew on a cooked bone. That is understandable, especially if a dog is hungry and his owner provided him only with cooked bones, thinking foolishly that cooked bones are enough. This means that your dog may have to go through some expensive dentistry at the vet.
  • The dog can also get his tongue or mouth pierced by a splintered cooked bone, which will mean that a trip to the vet is a must, not to mention how painful it can be.
  • A cooked bone can get stuck in a dog’s lower jaw and not only frighten him but also injury him.
  • Another possibility is that a bone can get stuck in windpipe, which can happen if a dog somehow inhales a very small piece of bone and it can lead to him being unable to breathe normally.
  • A cooked bone can get stuck in esophagus, which is the tube that food goes through in order to reach the stomach. This may cause gagging and surgery.
  • A bone can get stuck in stomach, which means that the bone is too big and it gets stuck before going into the intestines. This means that your dog will need a surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.
  • Your dog gets a cooked bone stuck in intestines which causes a blockage and it will certainly lead to a surgery.
  • Bone fragments cause constipation because they are probably too sharp and they scrape the insides of rectum or the large intestine as they move along. This is, as you can imagine, very painful and it will require a visit to the vet.
  • Peritonitis is a very difficult bacterial infection of the abdomen and they appear when small bone fragments poke holes in a dog’s stomach or intestines. It can be fatal and it is usually difficult to treat, so your dog must be taken to a vet.
  • Bones can cause severe bleeding from the rectum or even internal bleeding as they pierce the internal organs.

If your dog has already eaten a cooked bone

If your dog has somehow got a hold of a cooked chicken carcass or any other cooked bone, before you start to panic, and before you rush your mischievous pet to the vet, there are some things that you should be aware of.

First, you should check out your dog’s behavior. If he starts gagging, vomiting, drinking water excessively, licking his lips, coughing, pacing anxiously or he cannot sit, then that means that a piece of a cooked bone has been stuck in his throat or it is causing pain in his stomach. In this case you should know that taking your dog to the vet is a must.

Dog ate bone

However, if your furry friend has already eaten a cooked bone, ingested it and shows no signs of choking, coughing or experiencing any kind of pain, then it is possible that he will be just fine. Nevertheless, it is very important that you monitor his behavior during the next couple of days. That means that you should make sure to see if he is able to pass the bone through his stool or that he is not bleeding from his rectum.

Another signs that you should be aware of are: difficulty defecating, stomach swelling, vomiting, nervousness or anxious behavior. If your pooch shows any of these symptoms during the next 12 to 48 hours, then you should immediately seek the medical attention; or if there are no signs of bone fragments in his stool after 72 hours, you should go to the vet too.

After everything is over, you should remember that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure and that means that you should keep a better eye on your furry friend, so he does not get into trouble by eating something that he should not.

Cooked bones vs raw bones

Unlike cooked bones, which have already mentioned above as being very dangerous, raw bones have been a part of dogs’ diets for a very long time and probably from the very beginning. Today’s dogs that are kept as pets share the same characteristics of their predecessors, and even though humans have modified various dog breeds to their liking, the basic nutrient requirements are the same.

However, a ground raw bone is a good source of calcium and phosphorus, having in mind that 70 % of the bone is minerals and only 30 % is composed of poorly digested collagen. Additionally, a raw ground bone does not present any risk whatsoever to the dog’s digestive track, while there is a risk if you feed a whole raw bone. The risk of infection from pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli is another possible risk, especially if you do not know the source of the meat and bones you purchased.

Meat and bones that dog can eat

There are two types of raw bones: edible and recreational. The edible ones are the hollow and non weight-bearing bones of birds (chicken wings and chicken and turkey necks). They are good because they can be crushed in a meat grinder and they do not have marrow. However, if you do not ground them, they can be dangerous because of their sharpness.

The recreational ones are the raw bones of beef or bison and they are good because they provide your dog with mental and dental exercises and reduce the risks of developing gum diseases. They do not have any special nutrients, but they are not breakable as cooked bones, and that means that they can be used as playthings. However, they should not be too hard, because if a dog is gnawing at them too much, he can also hurt his mouth.

All in all, feeding a ground raw bone seems to be the best and healthiest choice, and even though feeding a whole raw bone is risky, it is still a better choice than giving a cooked bone to your dog.

A guideline to feeding raw bones

First of all, you should determine whether feeding raw bones to your dog is appropriate at all. That is because certain dog breeds cannot process bones at all and they are unable to gain the same benefits from them as the others. That is mostly because of their jaw bone structure and these dog breeds are called brachiocephalic and some of them are: Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzu. These breeds have delicate jaw bone structures and softer teeth, so they are unable to eat raw bones.

You can also ask your vet to evaluate their upper and lower molars, the length of the muzzle to see if the mouth is in shape of handling a bone.

Dog trying to eat bone

It also depends on your dog’s medical history in general – if he is not used to bones he may have problems with diarrhea or soft stool. Their bodies need time adjusting to raw bones, the same as with raw meat.

Secondly, as with the treats, you should never give raw bones before or during the full meal. The dog should never be starving when he is eating a bone, because he may start gnawing at it aggressively or trying to gulp it all at once. Also, big dog breeds such as Labradors, Shepherds or Dobermans should not eat cut or smaller bones because they would swallow them quickly. Bones should always be longer or larger than the length of the muzzle.

Another important thing is that you should always supervise and monitor your dog’s behavior during and after eating the bone. Do not give your dog a bone and then leave for work, for example. After the dog is finished, you must always check his mouth, teeth and gums so you can make sure there is no injury or bleeding.

Tips for feeding bones in general

  • Raw bones are safer than cooked bones, but you should still avoid the large ones from sheep and cows since they are the hardest and densest.
  • The safest raw bones are raw or frozen chicken thighs, wings or backs. They are the softest ones, and you should avoid the hardest, even if they are raw.
  • If you have a dog who is a gulper and not a chewer, then you should avoid giving him any bone, raw or not. It is just too risky.
  • Some dog breeds (which are mentioned above) are not physically able to chew or eat bones, so they should not be given any.
  • You can get raw bones from the supermarket or your butcher, so he or she can provide you with the best and softest cuts, because they know they are for your dogs.
  • Always make sure to check on your pet as he is chewing the bone and after he is finished. Also do not forget to check his teeth and gum, especially if he is not used to raw bones yet.
  • Chicken wings and chicken and turkey necks are better grounded, because they can be very sharp and dangerous to larger dog breeds. Also, they do not have marrow so they make a great choice for your dog.
  • Do not feed your dog a cut or small bone, because they can be swallowed whole so they pose a risk of choking. A bone should be longer than a dog’s muzzle.
  • The best alternative to raw bones is an edible dental bone of high quality.

To sum up, we mentioned in the article the consequences of feeding cooked bones to the dogs and came to the conclusion that there is not even one benefit of such bones.

Furthermore, they can be very dangerous because cooked bones are bristle, sharp and easily breakable which can lead to your dog choking or gagging on them. The sharp or broken ends of such bones can also pierce your pet’s internal organs and end up being fatal.

We also mentioned a difference between cooked and raw bones, and pointed out some benefits of grounded and whole raw bones. However, the most important thing is to remember that you should always monitor your dog during and after the eating so you can notice in time if he shows any signs of pain or discomfort. Your dog depends on you to give him the healthiest food possible and ensure his safety by giving him the appropriate portions and nutrients.

About the author
Anna Smith
Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed.

  • Jane

    I don’t know when this was posted but I use chicken carcasses to make dog treats for my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I save carcasses, liver, heart, gizzards, necks etc. in the freezer. When I get a large batch, I put the in my pressure cooker and process at 15 psi for at least an hour. I then check them. If the large bones are soft and mushy they are done, otherwise I cook a little longer. I mast it all up together and sometimes I add brown rice to the pot and veggies (carrots, sweet potato, etc.)

    I mash it all up and mix in whole wheat flour, some oatmeal or whatever strikes my fancy. When it’s “dough like” I pat it into a well greased rimmed baking sheet. I score it in squares – or if I’m feeling like it, I roll the dough out and cut it into bone shapes etc. and bake it for about 40 min. I just keep an eye on it. Once I remove it fro the oven, I break it apart and put it back into a low oven – around 150 degrees to dry out.

    They keep for a very long time if you get all the moisture out. They will also keep in the refrigerator. My dog loves them. So far, they haven’t hurt her at all but I make sure when handling the dough to take out any pieces that seem sharp or not completely broken down. I just wanted to share this idea and see what you thought of it.

    • Hello Jane,
      Thank you for sharing your routine with us, it’s quite impressive! Indeed, when it comes to chicken bones, the danger comes from pointy and sharp pieces. That’s why it is best to avoid them if you don’t have the time to prepare them properly.

  • Suzanne Feld

    I raw feed my dogs and the base meat of their diet is chicken. My OES and GSD eat raw chicken w/bones at least 3-5 times a week and have NEVER had a problem – the OES is 6 and the GSD is 3.

    • Anna Smith

      That is truly remarkable, Suzanne. Raw bones are safer and as long as your dog never experiences indigestion or discomfort, then it’s always good to go!

  • Jesi Drake

    We have an entire Pack, consisting of 6 cats and 2 dogs, whom we make pet food for, so nothing goes to waste in this house! We get 40lb boxes of chicken quarters, livers, gizzards, and sometimes whole tilapia (ground up head, eyes, and all!), sweet potatoes (and pumpkins this time of year) as well as alternating veggies and whatever we have excess of in the fridge (yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, raw milk, cooked leftovers, pan juices, etc) All 8 of them get whole raw chicken legs sometimes and even the cats will finish them with no problem😸If they do only eat part of a leg, we take it away after 15 minutes or so because they start to dry out and aren’t as pliable. Most of the raw legs go thru the grinder whole, sometimes I cook them first and use the bones to make stock, then cook the bones until easily crushed by hand for the Pack to chew on or put them in the blender and mix them in their food. Cooked gizzards are good to chew too😺We take whole raw eggs in their shells and put them in the Nutribullet and add those, no problem too. Our pets are all much healthier since we started making their food like this 4 years ago and have no problems digesting it ( except 1 of the cats will puke if he gets too much raw liver😿) We take pieces of meat/fish and dehydrate it, sometimes wrapped around a veggie, as treats. I’m about to Try experimenting right now with turning cooked bones to rubber in vinegar (probably Apple cider vinegar) for them to chew on. Not sure if it’ll be a hit or it will taste bad😕They get Apple cider vinegar in their food, so I’m hoping they’ll take to it! Anybody have any experience with this? I’d love some suggestions!

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