Some people feel their pets need to chew on bones.  This is especially true for dog owners.  This opinion probably arises for various reasons. But, the more common rationale are that "bones are good at preventing dental disease", or "bones are needed for proper digestion", or "bones are a good treat".

Bone ingestion does occur with some wild animal species. For example, hyenas ingest bones and bone fragments as part of their normal dietary intake. However, they gradually evolved to have this ability and to fill this respective niche. And, if an individual ever had a problem with their bone ingestion, we would probably never discover its occurrence.

While your pet may never have a complication arise from this practice, here are some of the hazards and dangers of why it is a bad idea to allow your pet access to bones (no matter what the size):

  • Worn and broken teeth.
  • Mouth or tongue injuries such as lacerations could result.
  • The bone gets stuck around the lower jaw or wedged between teeth.
  • The bone gets stuck in the trachea (windpipe).  This could lead to obstructed breathing, infections, and even death if your pet can’t breathe.
  • The bone gets stuck in the esophagus.  This could lead to problems such as lacerations, ulcerations, perforations, infections, and blockages.
  • The bone gets stuck in the stomach.  (See #5 with possible sequelae.)
  • The bone gets stuck in the intestines.  (See #5 with possible sequelae.)
  • Constipation can arise from bone fragments.
  • Severe bleeding from the rectum can arise due to the movements of bone fragments or chunks.
  • Vomiting with or without blood.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Peritonitis.
  • Pain (in many forms based on the location of the bone or bone fragments).
  • Death. This can result from many of the possible sequelae from bone ingestion.

To summarize, we ask the following question:  Is it worth the potential problems and risks for you and your loved one?? 

Sooner or later (yet we hope we are wrong), the odds are that a bone will make your pet a candidate for a trip to us, or the local emergency hospital.  This may lead to expensive emergency procedures such as endoscopy and/or surgery.  And ultimately, the death of your pet could occur from the complications that result from the bone and its sequelae.

So remember, make sure you dispose of bones in a way that your pet can’t get to them!  Remove bones from any pet access areas (i.e. the kitchen counter or tables)!  Secure trash cans!  Make sure bones are placed where your pet can not find them, reach them, or scrounge for them!  This includes finding them on walks in the neighborhood, parks, and beaches.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), No Bones About It:  Bones are Unsafe for Your Dog, April 20, 2010.