Although each dog breed matures at a different rate, puppies should avoid chewing on bones until they’re at least 4 to 6 months old. Puppy teeth are sharper and more fragile than those of an adult, and they can damage their teeth and risk choking if they’re given bones before they’re ready. Puppy bites and gnawed personal belongings are irritating to dog owners, but chewing is a natural behavior for a young dog.
What Are the Risks of Giving Bones to Puppies?
Puppies in the teething stage can crack their immature teeth on a hard object like a bone or hard toy, but they can gnaw on harder materials when the teeth are fully grown. When your puppy is old enough to chew bones, it’s best to check with a veterinarian to ensure the dog’s teeth are strong enough to handle a raw bone or hard toy. However, a large number of veterinarians are opposed to feeding any type of bone to dogs.
Although real bones have benefits like preventing your belongings from being chewed, many vets believe the risks of injuries outweigh the benefits. Since there are so many alternatives to bones, your vet may recommend using edible toys or chew toys rather than bones. Whether you choose a natural bone or toy for your puppy, be sure to supervise the animal closely to ensure it does not choke or swallow a piece.
Which Types of Bones Are Safe for Puppies?
The best bones to give your dog are raw lamb and beef bones, but avoid cuts of meat like ribeye, ribs, chops, and any parts with sharp angular edges. Large bones with rounded ends are ideal for puppies and adult dogs. At all costs, avoid giving your canine cooked bones.
When bones are cooked, they lose mass and become brittle. A tiny sliver from a bone can damage your dog’s gums, or it could lead to deadly intestinal issues. Choking is also more likely with cooked bones because even a puppy can snap off a large piece and try to swallow it.
Although raw bones are safer than cooked ones, they carry their own risks, including:
When handling raw bones, be sure to sanitize any surface they were on and wash your hands after touching them. The pathogens on raw bones can contaminate food preparation surfaces and lead to a foodborne illness in humans.
Are Commercial Dog Bones Safe?
Commercial dog bones, also referred to as bone treats, were once thought to be safe alternatives to raw bones, but since 2010, the FDA has received several reports of injuries related to mass-produced bone treats. Some of the reports came from products labeled as Smokey Knuckle Bones, Pork Femur Bones, Ham Bones, and Rib Bones. Bone treats are dried and processed in a facility that adds ingredients like liquid smoke flavoring, seasonings, and preservatives. The FDA received a small number of complaints about moldy or damaged bone treats, but the most concerning injuries were:
Unfortunately, 15 dogs out of the 68 that were reported to the FDA died from eating the bone treats.
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What Do Vets Recommend for Puppies?
Dog owners who support feeding raw bones to puppies claim the bones are more nutritious and beneficial than toys. Although bones contain phosphorus and calcium, dogs cannot benefit from the minerals unless they’re ground up and added to food. The only nutritional benefits of a raw bone come from the stringy pieces of meat and connective tissue left on the surface, and it only takes a few minutes for a canine to consume the tasty bits. Grinding the bones provides essential nutrients, but then the dog is not getting any chewing practice.
Because of their experiences treating puppies injured from bones, veterinarians are generally opposed to raw bones, bone treats, and certainly cooked bones. Instead of bones, the experts recommend using braided rope toys and rubberized products for your puppy.
Experiencing your pet’s puppy years is an exciting time that you’ll never forget, but it has its downsides. Puppies are bold, inexperienced, and vulnerable to numerous hazards in your home, and it’s up to their human families to keep the animals safe and healthy. Bone feeding, as you have seen, is a controversial topic. Novels, films, and even music have amplified the stereotype of dogs chewing on real bones, but popular culture rarely highlights the risks. Giving raw bones to your puppy is a personal choice, but remember that you can buy a few non-toxic toys that last for months and help with teething instead of visiting the butcher every week.
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