PETS’ CORNER Leave the bone alone


Bones can cause serious injuries to your dog, both in its mouth and in its intestines.
?Bones can cause serious injuries to your dog, both in its mouth and in its intestines.

Bone of contention

Ask the vet
Esther Van Luipen

Bones are a popular treat for dogs. People think that because they are natural, they will be good for them, and dogs love them! Unfortunately, bones are highly dangerous for dogs, even the bigger ones.
There are many reasons why it is not a good idea to give your dog a bone (no matter how much he begs for it!). First of all, a dog chewing on a bone can easily sustain mouth, gum or tongue injuries. These can be pretty dramatic and may require a trip to the vet.
Bones can cause problems further down the digestive tract too, as they can get stuck in the oesophagus, the tube that brings the food from the mouth to the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to get the bone back up. Your dog definitely needs to go to the vet when this happens.
If the bone doesn’t get stuck in the oesophagus, there are plenty other places where the bone can get stuck, like the stomach. Depending on the size of the bone, the bone might have gone down the oesophagus, but might just be a little too big to go into the intestines. Needless to say, your dog will have to go to the vet and will probably end up needing surgery.
When the bone manages to pass the stomach and get into the intestines it can do a lot of damage. It can cause a blockage. This definitely needs emergency surgery. Bigger and sharper fragments can pierce through the lining of the gut and cause peritonitis. This is a terribly painful and often lethal infection in the belly. Again, you’re looking at an emergency trip to the vet.
Also, small bone fragments can cause constipation, as your dog may have a hard time passing them. These sharp fragments also scrape the inside of the intestines, causing severe pain, and, yes, you guessed it, a trip to the vet.
I’ll be honest and admit that I sometimes give my dog a bonemarrow bone. These are the big bones that the butcher makes when (s)he cuts the upper leg of a cow diagonally. These bones are the safest, but you will still need to supervise your dog if you do give one. If the dog really goes to town on the bone and chews a bit too hard, his teeth can break. I’ve also seen a dog with a piece of broken bone looped around its jaw.
Really, the best thing is to avoid giving your dog bones, and to make sure that the dog can’t get its paws on any by scavenging through the bins. Pigs ears and treats made out of raw hide are safe and natural, and are not fattening either. Happy chewing time!

Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at