Are Bones Good for your Dog? By Dr Elaine Cebuliak

Regarding bones it is interesting to note that there is a large cultural bias regarding the subject of bone chewing for pets.

In the United States, a country more litigious than Australia, many veterinarians actively discourage feeding bones.

Are bones harmful? Bones have been implicated in causing:

Pancreatitis – especially common in overweight animals. The marrow of the bone, and some parts on the outside represent 99% fat. Many dogs have sedentary lifestyles and cannot tolerate this heavy fat intake. It is important to trim off the fat and not feed bones that are sliced open by the butcher to allow access to the marrow. Pancreatitis and liver upsets can occur from overzealous ingestion of the fat.

· Bones can get wedged in the top of the palate.

· Bones can break the carnassial (upper premolar 4) of the dog’s top jaw.

· Chop bones can get wedged, causing pain, periodontitis, and fracture the lower teeth.

· Bones must NEVER be cooked, as they can lodge in the intestine, stay undigested and cause constipation, perforation, peritonitis and death.

The ‘Useful Chew’ Feed bones that have cartilage and sinewy meat and soft, cancellous (chewy) bone. Throw the bone away after a suitable time period – this varies for each individual dog, when the chewing has taken off the meat and cartilage. If your dog doesn’t have appropriate chewing behaviour (e.g. some Bull terriers and Labradors) you must be extra vigilant. Most of our pets are overfed; remove all the fat first. Helpful tips for removing the bone include taking the dog for a walk or otherwise distracting it to come inside the house or play ball/toy. Therefore, we recommend careful assessment of each individual and each animal for their ability to handle bones. Be forewarned of some inherent dangers.

1. Do not give cooked bones

2. Cut off fat

3. Supervise bone chewing, removing bone after the ‘useful chew’ stage

4. Choose the appropriate size for the dog/cat

5. Choose bones with cartilage and sinew

6. Do not give chop or split shaft bones

 7. Have the vet perform a baseline anterior abdominal palpation and serum lipase and amylase for suspect pancreatitis patients.

To make a time to see Dr Elaine and her team visit:

Dr Elaine Cebuliak

Dr Elaine is a highly experienced holistic vet and pioneer of Animal Wellness in Brisbane. She also assists with many charitable projects in Australia and in Bali.

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