Raw Marrow Bones: Are They Safe for Your Dog?

Have you ever wondered if raw marrow bones are suitable for dogs? At Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery, we often receive this question. Over the past decade, certain pet food companies have bombarded us with the idea that dogs should eat like wolves. But it’s important to remember that dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, undergoing significant modifications by humans.

While the idea of dogs eating prey and consuming bones may seem appealing, it’s crucial to understand that our pet dogs don’t face the same survival challenges as wolves. Instead, they receive love, food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. Speaking of veterinary care, bones and dogs often go hand-in-hand, which makes it vital to consider their potential risks.

The Dangers of Cooked Bones

Bones come in two forms: raw and cooked. Cooked bones should never be given to dogs for several reasons. Firstly, cooked bones are extremely hard and can easily break a dog’s teeth. They can also splinter, leading to sharp fragments that can cause injuries to the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestines. Moreover, cooked bones are poorly digested when swallowed, increasing the risk of intestinal obstructions. In some cases, bones with a large central hole can get stuck on the lower jaw, leading to unexpected complications.

Raw Marrow Bones: Pros and Cons

Raw bones offer some advantages over cooked bones, but they also come with significant risks. Raw bones are softer and less likely to break teeth, especially when compared to larger or thicker bones, or ones that are frozen. They are also more easily digested, minimizing the chances of obstructions or trauma. However, raw bones also have their downsides, which should be taken into consideration to avoid potentially life-threatening illnesses for both dogs and humans who handle them.

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Food Safety

One crucial concern with raw bones is food safety. These bones can harbor dangerous bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, posing a risk of infection to both dogs and humans. Any surface the bones come into contact with can become contaminated. This is particularly risky for vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, and young children who are more likely to be in close proximity to dogs and less vigilant about hand hygiene.

Nutrition

Another consideration when it comes to raw marrow bones is their high-fat content. Bone marrow is extremely fatty, which can overwhelm a dog’s digestive system. This can lead to inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, causing symptoms like severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and, in severe cases, even death. Since high-fat foods aren’t typically a part of a dog’s regular diet, it’s best to avoid the potential complications.

Enamel

While dogs may have stronger-looking teeth than humans, their teeth actually have less of the hard outer enamel layer. Combine this with their powerful jaws and innate chewing desires, and it becomes easy for dogs to break their teeth when chewing on bones. Although dogs with bones often have seemingly clean teeth, this cleanliness comes at a significant cost.

Are Raw Marrow Bones Safe for Dogs?

As Board-Certified Veterinary Dentists based in Colorado, we have witnessed numerous cases of broken teeth resulting from inappropriate chew toys, including raw marrow bones. While your dog may enjoy these bones, the cons outweigh the pros from a professional standpoint. It is best to avoid all bones and opt for softer, less risky chew toys instead. If you’re unsure about which chew toys are safe for your furry companion, be sure to read our comprehensive blog post.

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