Dogs and bones are a hot topic in the pet parenting community. On the one hand, bones are natural for dogs, and on the other, they pose various health hazards. Provided pet parents give their dog a bone that classifies as safe, there is one more serious question to ask – do bones have an expiration date?
How long should a dog chew on a bone? In general, dogs can chew on a bone twice per week in sessions no longer than 15 minutes each; whether the same bone can be used twice depends on several factors such as type of bone, size, condition, and storage.
In this article, we will talk about how long dogs should chew a bone. We will discuss the different types of bones and their safety to dogs. Then, we will go through the bones’ expiration dates and potential risks associated with chewing the bone for too long.
Which Bones Are Safe for Dogs?
While bones do pose some issues, there are also some benefits associated with them. To make the best out of the situation – use the advantages without risking the side effects; as pet owners, you need to choose the right type of bone.
Before going into the different bones, we should state the general rule of the thumb – all offered bones must be raw. Cooked bones may seem like a better choice (no risk of food-borne diseases), but cooking makes them brittle and prone to splintering.
With that being covered, it is best to stick to bones from cows and bison as these tend to be the hardest and least destructible even for tenacious chewers. Pig bones and may only be suited for young pups and tiny dogs with poor chewing abilities.
Finally, chicken bones are strictly forbidden for all dogs regardless of age, breed, and chewing potential. Chicken bones are particularly brittle and prone to splintering and crumbling, thus posing a serious health hazard for dogs.
How Often Should a Dog Chew on A Bone?
A healthy dog is allowed to chew on a bone twice per week. Each bone chewing session should be limited to around 15 minutes. Too many bones or too often can be risky. Here are the reasons why dogs should not chew on bones too frequently.
Reason number 1: Oral Injuries
The more the dog chews a bone, the more likely it is to sustain oral injuries such as cuts and bruises. While oral cuts can occur after having a chew or two, the risk of bruises is much higher if chewing on bones more frequently and for longer.
Reason number 2: Constipation
Bones are rich in calcium, and too much calcium can cause constipation. Constipation is defined as difficulty defecating (or producing small and infrequent stool, usually in the form of little balls) but often progresses to obstipation – inability to defecate. Constipation is painful and requires veterinary attention.
Reason number 3: Satiation
Bones do not hold any nutritional value for dogs. However, if a dog consumes excess bones, it will feel satiated and may refuse other foods. In the long run, refusal to eat regular and nutritionally valuable food can lead to malnourishment.
Do Bones Have an Expiration Date?
Yes, bones do have an expiration date. In fact, unless you are keeping the bone clean and in the refrigerator, you should not be offering it to your dog more than once.
Namely, if the bone is large and you have a smaller dog, it is more convenient to use the same bone several times. In such cases, once the chewing session is over, you should pick up the bone, remove any visible dirt and store the bone in a refrigerator. If kept properly, you can use the same bone for one week.
However, if there are signs of damage and the bone starts splintering, forget about storage – it would be much safer to dispose of the bone and get a new one.
What Happens if My Dog Keeps Chewing on A Bone?
Allowing your dog to chew a bone for too long is a recipe for disaster. As the dog chews through the bone, it gets thinner and more prone to splintering and fracturing. Bone splinters are dangerous for dogs on various levels.
First of all, they may cause mouth injuries or get stuck between the teeth. These scenarios are not life-threatening but are uncomfortable for the dog and scary for the owner. Keep in mind that even minor oral scratches tend to bleed a lot.
Another problem with bones and splinters is the possibility of them entering the wrong pipe (trachea instead of the esophagus) and causing choking. Choking is a life-threatening situation. While the Heimlich maneuver is helpful in general when it comes to bones, it may not help as they can get lodged in the windpipe.
The more serious issue is the bone splinter’s potential to damage the stomach or intestines. If the splinter pierces the wall of the GI tract causing perforation, the dog requires immediate surgery. Even with such surgery, the outcome and prognosis are guarded. This is because once the content of the GI tract spills in the abdomen, the risk of lethal infection is high.
Are Bones Bad for A Dog’s Teeth?
Yes, bones can be bad for a dog’s teeth. While it is true that chewing on bones helps remove tartar and plaque buildup from the teeth, thus preventing dental diseases, the risk of chewing bone outweighs the benefits.
Namely, bones are strong, and it is not uncommon for dogs to experience a tooth fracture after chewing on a bone. Since chewing does help with the mechanical removal of plaque and tartar, a healthier alternative would be to provide your dog with a chew toy instead of a bone.
The pet market offers hundreds of different chew toys made exclusively for dogs. Some are even made to help with the prevention of dental issues. Plus, they are made of dog-friendly materials and perfectly safe for pups.
Summing Up: How Long Can Dogs Chew Bones?
Dogs can chew on bones in sessions of up to 15 minutes. The recommended frequency of these sessions is two times a week. Anything more than this increases the risk of health issues.
Also, before getting into numbers and timeframes, you need to be extra mindful about the type of bones you are choosing. As already explained, not all bones are equally safe for dogs.
If you are not sure whether a certain type of bone is safe and suitable for dogs, it is best to err on the side of caution and refrain from feeding it to your dog. Always consult with your vet when in doubt.