Chew Bone Safety for Dogs

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13 December 2023

Chew Bone Safety for Dogs

Dogs and bones is like an old-fashioned love story. Long before the days of domestication, dogs would hunt in packs and, later, gnaw on the bones of their prey. Chewing is instinctual and healthy for dogs, providing the mental stimulation they crave. However, modern-day dog chew options have become limitless, from bone-shaped rawhide to cooked cow knuckles.

Giving your dog the wrong bone can be fatal, and understanding the dangers of dog bones is crucial. We have created this guide to help you learn everything you need to know about which bones are safe for your dog to chew.

Benefits of Chewing Bones for Dogs

Can dogs chew bones? In short, yes. Chewing bones can provide a whole range of benefits, including

  • Dental protection.
  • Mental stimulation.
  • A good source of minerals and vitamins.
  • Satisfies the urge to chew on household objects.
  • Easing discomfort during teething.
  • Keeps their jaw strong and healthy.

Chewing bones stimulate the salivation glands as your dog chews, and salivary enzymes can help prevent excessive plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth and gums. Plus, chewing is a self-soothing behaviour that releases endorphins, which can help your dog display less destructive behaviours as it keeps their mind active and stimulated. 

The same goes for puppies, too. The act of chewing can help keep your puppy’s mind stimulated to prevent destructive behaviours while also relieving teething pain and building jaw strength. 

Dog chewing antler chew

Dog Bone Dangers

While chewing bones has proven benefits, it is not without its risks. Many vets warn that giving your dog's bone without the proper precautions can lead to a number of problems, potentially resulting in an expensive trip to the vet, of even be fatal to your dog. Some of these problems include: 

  • Choking 
  • Puncture wounds to the mouth and tongue 
  • Stomach and intestinal damage
  • Gastrointestinal blockages
  • Bacterial contamination
  • Broken Teeth 

This is why it’s essential you follow proper precautions when giving your dog’s bones.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Bones?

You should never feed your dog cooked bones. When bones are cooked, they become brittle and can splinter into sharp fragments, which can easily become lodges in your dog’s mouth, throat, airways and gastrointestinal tract. The smaller the piece of bone is, the harder it is for your vet to see them on scans as well, so this can lead to a prolonged diagnosis, which may be fatal.

Any nutrients raw bones provide come from the excess meat, connective tissue, bone marrow and cartilage, all of which are lost and broken down in the cooking process, leaving nothing beneficial for your dog anyway. 

Be wary, as some pet shops will also sell a variety of cooked bones, such as roasted beef knuckles to whole duck neck. However, these should be avoided as well. Not only do they pose a choking hazard to your dog, but they also often contain harmful preservatives. 

Safe Chew Bones for Dogs

While bones can be harmful to dogs, a great range of fantastic dog chew alternatives are available, providing all the benefits of bones with far less danger. Before we go into the various types of chew bones for dogs, here are some general safety rules to follow: 

  • Do not give your dog cooked bones - they are too brittle and can easily splinter and become lodged in your dog's mouth, throat, airways and gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Never leave your dog unattended with a bone
  • Make sure the bone is big enough that it can’t be swallowed whole or easily broken.
  • Only allow your dog to chew their bone for a limited time (10-15 minutes) 
  • If feeding raw bones, refrigerate or freeze the bone after use to save the next day/ 
  • Discard bones after 2-3 days once the meat is gone. 

These bone safety tips apply to almost all kinds of bones out there, but now we’re going to take a look at some of the bones you can give your dog.

Raw Bones for Dogs

Raw bones can be safe for dogs if they are fed responsibly. They are the safest and most natural way to provide your dog with the mental stimulation and nutrients they crave. Raw bones are soft and packed with essential minerals and nutrients broken down when cooked, making them safer than cooked bones. 

However, there are still precautions to take with raw bones as they can begin to harbour bacteria after time. To avoid spreading and growing harmful bacteria in your home, do not leave the raw bone out for more than 2 hours and ensure your dog eats it outside or on a hard, cleanable surface. 

You should never give your dog bones from packaged supermarket meat. These bones are not intended for dogs. If you want to give your dog a bone, make sure to purchase one from a pet store to minimise any risks.

If your dog has a history of gastrointestinal issues or pancreatitis, they should avoid being given fatty or marrow-filled bones and should stick to gnawing on leaner bones. If you choose to give them raw bones, you can support the health of their digestive tract with a digestive supplement so your pup can enjoy raw bones the same as other dogs.  

How to Choose the Right Size Raw Bone for Dogs

To avoid choking hazards, always ensure the bone you choose is the right size for your dog’s age, size, and breed. A good rule of thumb is to ensure the raw bine is equal to or greater than the size of your dog’s head. 

Raw Hide Bones for Dogs

Rawhide bones are a byproduct of the leather industry. They are made from the internal layers of cow or horse hide, while the outer layers are made into leather goods, such as shoes. These inner layers are then placed in high salt brines or chemical baths to slow tissue decay and are treated with lume to separate the fat from the skin. The rawhides are then washed and bleached to remove any hair or colouring before being layered, glued and shaped into dog chews. 

The process has given rawhide chews something of a bad reputation, but rawhide chews are safe to give to your dog when done responsibly. The key thing to remember is that rawhide bones are meant for chewing, not ingesting

To determine if rawhide chews are the right choice for your dog, remember: 

  • Consult your vet before giving rawhide to your dog 
  • Stronger chewers are more likely to tear the chew apart, increasing the risk of choking
  • Ensure the company producing the rawhide bones adheres to manufacturing standards 
  • Check the ingredients carefully for any harsh chemicals that may be dangerous for your dog. 

There is also a range of rawhide bone alternatives available that may be more appropriate for your dog.

Dog with rawhide dog bone

Commercial Dogs Chews

As well as raw and rawhide bones for dogs, a great range of brands offer tasty chews for your dogs to enjoy, including antlers, yak chews, hooves, and more! 

Much like real bones, things like antlers and hooves can’t be digested and are meant for chewing, not swallowing. Always be sure to choose the right chew size based on your dog's size, age, and breed, and monitor your dog while chewing. These chews should be taken away after 10-15 minutes. 

Dental Chews for Dogs

According to vets, many dogs experience dental problems by the time they’re 3. As not many dogs are happy with letting you brush their teeth, dental chews have become a popular way to keep their breath smelling fresh and teeth clean. 

Many dental chews offer the same dental benefits as bones but without the danger. They’re designed with a firm texture and unique design to encourage longer chewing time while also being digestible, making them a great choice for your dog.

Shop Dog Dental Chews

Dog Bone Alternatives

Unfortunately, dogs can’t always snack and chew on bones. Alternatives to dog bones can provide your dog with constant mental stimulation and boredom relief. 

Twisted rope toys and rubber chews are a great alternative to edible chews and can keep your dog occupied for hours. You can find a great selection of appropriate toys for your dogs here, some of which are great bone alternatives like:

Chews and Bones for Puppies

Puppies are adventurous and curious. They will sink their teeth into anything they can find. However, you should never give your puppy a bone. Puppies have very delicate and gentle teeth that can be easily damaged or broken by hard bones.  If a puppy’s teeth become damaged, it can cause permanent damage to their gums and the adult teeth below them. 

Depending on the breed, a puppy will begin growing adult teeth from the age of 4 months old. This can be extremely painful and uncomfortable for your puppy, and a natural response to this is for them to chew continuously. They should be given an appropriate toy or chew to alleviate this discomfort. 

However, finding the right teething toys and age-appropriate chews can be a tricky task. Here, you can find a great selection of puppy treats as well as teething chews and toys

We all want to treat our pets from time to time, but your dog’s safety must always come first. While bones can offer a great range of benefits for your dog, it is down to you as their owner to decide if these outweigh the risks

If you’re looking for an alternative for chew bones for your dog, why not take a look at our great range of dog treats and toys from some of the top brands in the industry? 

Shop dog chews & treat at Pet Drugs Online


This post is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.

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