The idea that dogs and bones go together like a horse and carriage has been around for decades. However, bones can be very dangerous for your dog in several ways. Bones are hygroscopic which means they absorb water easily. So when a dog chews up a bone the bony fragments absorb water. This is fine in the upper small intestine where the ingesta is like a soup. But when this mix gets to the colon, all the water is absorbed back into the body and your dog is left with a bony impaction in his colon, which is extremely painful.
Certain bones can splinter into sharp fragments, which can puncture the intestine and cause a life threatening peritonitis. Other pieces of bone will be big enough to cause a blockage of the intestines resulting in surgery to remove it.
Bones can also get stuck in the esophagus (the tube that takes the food into the stomach) and your dog will not be able to eat or drink. Again, this condition is very painful. Other types of bones can get stuck around your pet’s lower jaw.
A less obvious problem from giving your dog bones is broken teeth. The enamel thickness of a dog’s tooth is thinner than humans’ and the potential for broken teeth is great. Fractured teeth are painful and a root abscess can form, requiring extraction of the tooth.
So unlike the lyrics of the children’s song “This Old Man” “Nick nack Paddy wack give your dog a bone”, don’t give your dog any bones to keep him feeling his best.
Rawhide chews are acceptable for dogs to chew on. They soften up with use and won’t break the teeth like a real bone or some of the harder synthetic bones. Replace them when they are the size where your dog could swallow a large piece. Any of the cloth toys sold at pet stores are also good for dogs to chew on as long as they don’t try to eat them.