Can Dogs Eat Bones?

Can dogs eat it

Written By: Angela Jakeson

Can Dogs Eat Bones?
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Can dogs eat bones? Bones for dogs come in many varieties with different purposes. Feeding the wrong type of bones to dogs can land them getting rushed to the vet. Hence, pet owners should be knowledgeable about what kinds of bones are suitable for their canine friends.

Cooked Bones vs. Raw Bones

can dogs eat bones 1Cooked bones in their various forms, such as baked, or boiled, must be kept away from dogs. The cooking process removes the collagen and nutrients from the bones, leaving them soft and brittle.

When chewed, cooked bones will easily splinter into sharp shards. It can lead dogs to suffer from life-threatening injuries such as gastrointestinal blockage and peritonitis.

On the other hand, raw bones tend to be sturdier and less likely to break off. Thus, they are the better option for dogs.

However, offering raw bones comes with some downsides. They have a tough texture, which can fracture your dog’s teeth if your dog is an aggressive chewer.

Raw bones are also potential carriers of harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, which can transmit food-borne illnesses to canines and even more so to humans.

Don’t let these risks discourage you from giving raw bones to your dog. Following the safety guidelines, which we will talk about further on in this article, will help prevent these dangers from happening to your dog.

Edible Bones vs. Recreational Bones

can dogs eat bones 2Most dogs are bone-chewing enthusiasts. If your pooch enjoys munching on bones, there are many choices.

Bones for dogs are classified into two groups: edible bones and recreational bones. Let us find out what types of bones are best suited for your dog.

Edible Bones

If you are wondering: what bones can dogs eat? Edible bones commonly function as a supplement to homemade canine diets and help balance calcium ratios. Dogs eating edible bones also gain an extra dose of valuable nutrients.

Edible bones are commonly enveloped in cartilages and tissues; hence, they possess a soft texture. Some of the most suitable types of edible bones for dogs are the wingtips, backs, and feet of poultry.

We have compiled a list of most asked questions by dog owners about feeding edible bones to dogs and their answers.

edible bones for dogs infographic

1. Can dogs eat chicken bones?

Can dogs eat raw chicken bones? Do you need to worry if your dog ate chicken bones?

There is contention about whether raw chicken bones are safe for dogs. Some discourage feeding them to canines because they break too easily.

However, others believe that dogs pass chicken bones and other parts of raw chicken carcass, such as wings and necks, without problems, as the stomach acid in the digestive tract can easily dissolve them.

For your dog’s safety, err on the side of caution. It is a good idea to grind up raw chicken bones before serving them to your dog. This will help keep him safe from stomach proliferation and mouth injuries.

2. Can dogs eat turkey bones?

Much like chicken bones, there is conflicting information on the safety of turkey bones for dogs. Some experts advise avoiding feeding turkey bones to dogs since they may splinter easily. However, others believe they can be safely consumed raw.

To avoid any harmful risks, stick with feeding your dog raw and ground turkey bones.

3. Can dogs eat chicken wings?

can dogs eat bones 6Chicken wing is safe for dogs to consume raw. It houses nutrients such as calcium, chondroitin, and glucosamine, which are good for your dog’s health.

As always, the cooked variety is off-limits to dogs as its bones can break into small pieces, causing injuries to your dog’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract.

In comparison, raw chicken wing bones have a softer texture, so most dogs can munch through them without any problem.

4. Can dogs eat chicken neck?

can dogs eat bones 7If your dog has eaten a chicken neck unsupervised, it might be a cause for concern. Although it is a rich source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients, its small size makes it a potential choking hazard, especially for large breed dogs.

Moreover, studies show that raw chicken necks are linked to the development of a paralysis-inducing disease in canines called acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN). For these reasons, caution should be taken when feeding chicken necks to dogs.

5. Can dogs eat oxtail?

can dogs eat bones 8Raw oxtail is a good edible bone choice for larger dogs since bones from poultry might be too small for them. If your canine friend is allergic to poultry, raw ox tail is an excellent alternative chew bone.

6. Can dogs eat lamb bones?

Much like oxtails, lamb bones are a good edible bone option for larger dogs and dogs with poultry allergies. They are considered hypoallergenic and larger than poultry bones.

However, only raw lamb bones should be offered to dogs. Never give a dog cooked lamb bones to avoid accidents like choking and internal damage. Moreover, lamb bones should be given in moderation as they are rich in fats.

7. Can dogs eat pork bones?

Pork bones are considered dangerous for dogs. Both raw and cooked bones, including pork rib bones and pork chop bones, are susceptible to shattering.

The pieces of bone fragments can get lodged in the throat, resulting in choking or fatally blocking the digestive tract of canines.

Recreational Bones

can dogs eat bones 9

Also known as chewables, they are not necessarily meant for eating but to be gnawed on. Although they offer some nutritional value, consuming recreational bones is not recommended. Compared to edible bones, they are tougher to chew, making them likely to cause tooth fractures.

The purposes of recreational bones for dogs are improving dental health, providing mental stimulation, and, most importantly, appeasing their chewing tendencies. They can be a substitute for regular chew toys.

Several types of bones fall into the recreational category, including long bones from large mammals such as beef, bison, elk, and buffalo.

Here is a list of most asked questions by dog owners about giving recreational bones to dogs and their answers.

1. Can dogs eat rib bones?

Many experts do not recommend giving raw or cooked rib bones to canines as they are highly prone to splintering.

Conversely, some sources see no harm in offering rib bones to dogs, provided that they are served raw. Due to the clashing of information, it would be best to err on the side of caution and avoid giving rib bones to your dog.

Another frequently asked question is: “Can dogs eat beef rib bones?” The same rule applies to any rib bones.  As much as possible, keep it out of your dog’s reach to prevent unwanted accidents from happening.


  • Rib bones, even if raw, are believed to be more brittle than other types of recreational bones.

2. Can dogs eat smoked beef bones?

Some pet owners ask, “Can dogs eat cooked beef bones?” While regular cooked beef bones should be kept away from dogs, smoked beef bones can be given to pooches but with caution.

The smoking process changes the bones’ chemical structure, increasing their potential to shatter easily when chewed. Thus, they are not the best option for aggressive chewers. Smoked beef bones are more appropriate for gentle chewers.


  • Smoked beef bones can be stored at room temperature, unlike raw bones.


  • Smoked beef bones have more likelihood of splintering than other recreational bones.

3. Can dogs eat ham bones?

Store-bought ham bone treats are not recommended for dogs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported that several dogs have passed away while others have fallen ill after being given the commercial ham bone treats. It is believed that the seasonings and preservatives found in these dog treats may have played a hand in causing the incidents.


  • Commercially sold ham bone treats contain questionable ingredients that can be dangerous to dogs.

4. Can dogs eat steak bones?

Steak bones are fine for dogs as long as they are raw and appropriately sized. Match the steak bone’s size to your dog’s size to prevent him from swallowing it whole, which can lead to choking and other dangerous accidents.


  • Raw steak bones don’t break as easily as their cooked counterparts.


  • Small-sized steak bones are potential choking hazards, particularly to large dogs.

5. Can dogs eat antlers?

Antlers are one of the most durable recreational bones for dogs. However, antlers are not ideal for aggressive chewers due to their very tough texture.

Gnawing on them too hard may lead to teeth fractures. With this in mind, antlers are better suited for gentle chewers.


  • Antlers are low-fat, low-calorie, and long-lasting natural chews for dogs.


  • A high-quality antler will cost significantly more than other types of recreational bones.
  • The tough texture is not suitable for aggressive chewers.

6. Can dogs eat hooves?

can dogs eat bones 10Fresh hooves from bovine animals are made up of keratin, making them very tough. When chewed too hard, they can break into sharp shards and have pointed edges.

For this reason, they are not an ideal choice for aggressive chewers. Instead, hooves are more suited for moderate chewers.


  • Hooves are less costly compared to regular dog chews.
  • Hooves have a hollow center where you can insert dog treats to keep your dog more occupied.


  • Hooves have a propensity to emit a foul odor, which can be off-putting to many dog owners.
  • Hooves don’t have much give, and if chewed too hard, they can splinter into sharp points. Hooves are the type of bones that cause most of the injuries in dogs.

7. Can dogs eat knuckle bones?

can dogs eat bones 9Raw knuckle bones can be given to dogs. They are particularly suitable for heavy chewers as they have a softer texture. Thus, they are gentler on the teeth, which reduces the likelihood of dogs sustaining mouth injuries.


  • Knucklebones are durable despite having a softer texture than other types of recreational bones.


  • Picking the wrong size of knuckle bones for dogs increases the danger of choking. For instance, knuckle bones sold in small slices can get lodged in the windpipes of large dogs.

Guidelines for Safe Bone Chewing for Dogs

can dogs eat bones 5

Here are some preventive measures to take when choosing and offering bones to your dog:

  1. Source bones for dogs from a reputable seller. Source bones from organic and free-range animals. Moreover, they should also be free from additives and artificial flavors.
  2. Avoid purchasing bones for dogs that are sold in bulk. Oftentimes, they come without labels, leaving you in the dark about how they were processed, where they came from, and how long they were stored.
  3. Give your dog a raw bone about the size of your dog’s head. Avoid picking smaller types of bones as they can be swallowed whole, making them choking hazards.
  4. Lower the risk of bacterial contamination by buying frozen raw bones. Keep them refrigerated until you need to thaw one out for your dog.
  5. Never let your dog chew on bones that are not fully thawed. Frozen bones are difficult to chew and may fracture your pet’s teeth.
  6. Always supervise your dog so that you can immediately remove the bone if he whittles it down to a small size. This prevents choking accidents from happening.
  7. Dogs chew with strong force whenever they are hungry. For this reason, only give bones to your pooch after meals. This will keep him from biting down hard and splintering the bones.

All-natural bones are a good alternative to synthetic chews made of plastic or rubber. Allowing dogs to gnaw on synthetic chews can be harmful to their health in the long run.

  1. Fresh raw bones contain fats that can leave marks on surfaces. Including tiles with a rough surface. Hence, it is a good idea to place raw bones on a towel to keep the mess down.
  2. Some dogs have a tendency to hide things. Never let him bury the bones under the soil, as it can cause harmful bacterial growth.
  3. Excessive chewing can be detrimental to your dog’s dental health; thus, set a time limit for his bone-chewing session. Give him 10 to 15 minutes to enjoy chomping on the bones.
  4. Do not leave the bones out in the open after your dog’s chewing session. Store it in the freezer, as exposure to the elements can make it rot. Make sure to throw out the bone after 3 to 4 days.
  5. Do not allow your dog to chew on any bones or chews if he has undergone restorative dental work since they can damage his teeth.
  6. Bones, especially those containing marrow, are unsuitable for dogs that suffer from pancreatitis and other stomach problems. They can worsen the symptoms of these health conditions.
  7. Cleaning all the areas where your dog’s chewing bone comes into contact after each chewing session. Doing so eliminates disease-carrying bacteria and prevents them from proliferating.

What should you do if your dog ate cooked bones?

If you realize that your dog has eaten cooked bones, the first and most crucial thing to do is to avoid panicking.

Keep a clear head as you examine your dog’s condition. This prevents you from missing important details that might be useful information for the vet.

Make sure to keep an eye on your dog and look out for changes in his behavior. Stay vigilant for the following signs:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Difficulty in defecating
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Gagging
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of appetite

The presence of any of these alarming signs hints that your dog might have suffered an internal injury from the cooked bone. This requires an immediate trip to the emergency vet clinic for medical attention.

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