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When you give your dog a chew bone, you may think you’re simply giving him a tasty treat to snack on. But, in fact you’re doing much more. The perfect bone offers the potential for improved dental health, stimulating activity, soothing relief from teething pain and fulfillment of your dog’s innate urge to chew.
Some veterinarians say a good bone keeps the dentist away in that it can help scrape away plaque, control tartar buildup and prevent gum disease, helping to keep teeth white and reducing the risk of mouth problems. Bones can also do wonders for teething pain in puppies and stimulate the growth of adult teeth.
You may have learned the hard way by now that your pup likes to chew. Has he gotten into your shoe collection yet? Or what about your unprotected furniture? It only takes one ruined valuable to understand the importance of satisfying your puppy’s need to chew. Luckily, bones make for easy pacifiers. The right bone can entertain your dog for hours, keeping him distracted and active thereby offering two perks: a safe item to gnaw on, preventing destructive behavior and the benefit of tiring him out and relieving nervous energy.
That said, other veterinarians will dissuade you from giving your dog any bone at all due to concerns about fractured teeth, oral injuries, airway obstruction or gastrointestinal complications. Thus, it’s crucial to consult with your trusted, personal veterinarian before throwing your dog any sort of bone.
Once you’ve spoken with your veterinarian, if you receive bone approval and/or a recommendation, you’ll next want to understand your pup’s chewing rate and habits. For example, if your dog chews for short bursts of time and has a soft bite, your veterinarian may reccomend a treat or toy that softens easily*. Be sure to ask a professional for their pick based on your dog’s breed and needs. Alternatively, if your dog is an aggressive “power chewer,” you may want to try a nylon-based Nylabone, which is long-lasting and nearly indestructible. Keep in mind that this is a toy and NOT edible, so your dog should not be trying to eat the Nylabone! Or, do you have a pup who needs weight management? Try a healthy, grain-free chew made from all natural ingredients, which is also ideal for a dog who has digestive issues. A general rule that applies to any and all safe-to-chew bones are that they’re specially prepared for dogs, are rock-hard and virtually shatterproof. Bones should also be sterilized, natural and digestible for sensitive stomachs.
But, we do have a few crucial “bones to pick.” First, under no circumstance should you feed your dog cooked fish, chicken or beef bones from your own meal. Bones that are too small or too soft can easily splinter and quickly become choking hazards or cause critical digestive issues. And, never feed your pup raw bones such as beef tails or necks from poultry as they carry bacteria like salmonella and e-coli and can spoil quickly. Also, only offer bones to your pooch when you’re around and close by to supervise. If you do decide to leave your pup alone with a bone, make sure it’s a large joint bone free of small pieces that could pose a choking threat, and that you toss the bone within 1-2 days to prevent bacteria from growing, which can result in digestive disorders or parasites.
Remember to always consult with your vet and use discerning judgment when it comes to “chewsing” your dog’s bone.
*While a popular choice among dog owners, rawhide bones should be avoided because they can be dangerous, especially to puppies. According to PuppySpot veterinarian Dr. Brandon Sinn, the bones can cause upset a dog’s stomach if swallowed and also pose a choking hazard. In particular, rawhide bones made in China have a tendency to have bacterial contamination. “If done right they are OK at best, but with the wrong dog can be deadly,” warns Dr. Sinn.