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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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“Knick-Knack Paddywhack”—DON’T Give Your Dog a Bone!

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You’ve just finished a big weekend family dinner and you are wondering what to do with the bones from the ham and roast, when in trots your big black Labrador Retriever.  He longingly looks at the bones, and gives you his saddest puppy eyes.  You fall for his begging and think that the bones would be perfect for him to chew on.  Even though your vet has told you before that it’s a bad idea to give bones to your dog, you still think that these particular bones are big enough that your dog won’t get hurt.  After all, he hasn’t had problems chewing on bones in the past, so what harm could these two bones do?  Well, here are 11 reasons why you should think twice before giving your dog any bones to chew on: 

  1. Broken teeth.  (Veterinary dentistry—very expensive)
  2. Mouth or tongue injuries.  (Very bloody and messy.)
  3. Bone could get stuck around the dog’s lower jaw.  (May look funny, but it’s not.  Time to see your vet.)
  4. Bone could get stuck in your dog’s esophagus (food tube).  (Time to see your vet.)
  5. Bone could get stuck in your dog’s windpipe if he accidentally inhales a small enough piece.  (This is an emergency! Very dangerous.)
  6. Bone can get stuck in the stomach.  (It went in just fine, but is too big to pass out of the stomach into the intestines.  Time for surgery.)
  7. Bone can get stuck in the intestines and cause a major blockage.  (Time for surgery.)
  8. Constipation due to bone shards.  (Your dog can’t pass the bone shards because they’re very sharp and are scraping the inside of your dog’s intestines, causing him severe pain.  Time to see your vet.) 
  9. Severe bleeding from the rectum.  (Known in veterinary speak as Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis—or HGE.  Very messy and dangerous.)
  10. Peritonitis.  (A nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen caused when bone shards poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines.  This can kill your dog.) 
  11. Death. 

Always talk with your veterinarian first before you give bones to your dog.  And always, if your dog “just isn’t acting right,” call your vet right away!