Bones - to chew or not to chew?

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Inner South Veterinary Centre
47 Jerrabomberra Ave
Narrabundah
ACT 2604

Phone:
1800 785 330

Dogs chewing bones

When it comes to oral health and hygiene for our dogs and cats at home we tend to think of bones. Chewing bones, gnawing bones, chomping bones. All this is healthy and good for the teeth – right? Or is it?

Did you know that both the American Veterinary Dental College and the Australian Veterinary Association dental home care guide lines don't always recommend the feeding of bone! Bones are not mentioned by the US Veterinary Oral Health Council as a recommended way to keep your pets mouth healthy! Dr Christine Hawke of Sydney Pet Dentistry, a veterinary dental specialist also asks her clients to consider if bones are right for their pet.

So what’s the deal with bones and should they be part of dental health management for our pets?

We tend to think of bones as a ‘natural’ way to clean teeth and then feed our dog a great big leg bone. Wolves (the original model) and wild dogs wouldn't waste their time chewing on the bone itself when they could be eating the surrounding meat. The chewing of meat off a bone with a scissor action of the molars does clean teeth to some extent but this is not what dogs tend to do when presented with a bone that's not part of a meaty meal. Chewing on the actual bone itself can lead to very painful fractures of teeth necessitating the tooth's extraction. This is the exact opposite result to the desired outcome of clean teeth!

Dogs will often chew up and eat the bone itself. This can lead to some disastrous complications from bones stuck in the throat, stomach or intestines leading to perforation of the gut and even terrible constipation requiring costly, painful and often very undignified treatment. When bones go bad they really go bad! 

Dogs will often have a go at a bone then stash it for later. Storing raw meat products in the backyard can result in very unpleasant gastroenteritis following contamination with bacteria such as E. coli or Campylobacter. The marrow cavity of the bone is often considered the most delicious part by many dogs. If they haven’t fractured a tooth getting in there then they are at risk of pancreatitis or similar disease once they do! That yummy marrow is essentially pure fat and not good for your dog’s digestive system or their waist line. If your dog is an risk breed or individual of having hyperlipidaemia or getting pancreatitis e.g. Schnauzers and Beagles to start with, then marrow is NOT for them! Read our blog on Hyperlipidaemia in Schnauzers...

Then there is the human and animal health risk of handling and eating raw meat! Read more...

Some dogs and cats eat bones every day of their lives and are just fine. Other pets are not so lucky and suffer serious consequences as a result of eating and chewing on bone. Ultimately it's up to you, the owner, to weigh up the pros and cons of bones and decide what is right for your family. Just remember that while bones may be fun and tasty they really are not the best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. There are better, more effective and safer alternative that will keep your pet’s smile in tip top condition. Some options include appropriate diet, food and water additives and most importantly, regular dental prophylactic treatment and brushing at home. 

If you would like to find out more about how to keep your pet’s mouth healthy, please make an appointment for a complimentary dental check.


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