Scrappy loves bones. If you want to keep him occupied for a while, just give him a bone, right? Well, this depends. Although dogs have been eating bones for years, there seems to be some controversy on the subject. There are many types of bones, and it is important that you know what is in the one you choose to feed your beloved Scrappy. What kinds of bones are good for your dog? Which ones are bad? Why do dogs love bones in the first place? Your curiosity is spiked as Scrappy happily gnaws on his bone in the corner.
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The Root of the Behavior
It is in your dog’s nature to chew bones. In fact, they are even designed for chewing them. Before domestication, the most common way for dogs to get meat was within a group pack. They would surround and attack large prey, then they would tear that prey apart and eat the bones (as well as their stomach contents, but we do not need to get into that). Today, wild canines still eat the bones of their prey. Domesticated dogs still need essentially the same nutrients that their predecessors did, but with today’s common corn-based food, sometimes dogs do not get the essentials they need. Like their hunting relatives, dogs are primarily meat eaters, and raw meat bones offer dogs many of the nutrients that they still need.
Our ancestors also fed dogs scraps of food and bones to keep dogs loyal and to clean up our garbage. Eventually, some dogs even began to rely on these humans and kept coming back for the tasty treats. It was an easier way to get a meal than hunting in the way mentioned above. Our ancestors also recognized that bones provided their dogs with mental stimulation, which kept the wolves around longer. Just like Scrappy gets totally engrossed in his bones, so did his furry relatives from long ago. Evolution has also changed dog’s skulls so that they have strong jaws and teeth to be successful hunters. They developed stronger muscles in their jaws, and their skull even changed shape to accommodate their larger jaws and teeth. It was the need for early hunting that made this change. Because of this adaptation, dogs have the necessary physical tools to chow down on bones, and they want to use these strong jaws and teeth. Bones allow them to do this. Let’s not forget that dogs also eat bones because they taste good.
Encouraging the Behavior
Dr. Peter Dobias further argues that some bones are good for dogs. He says they offer benefits like dental cleaning, calcium, and minerals. Another vet, Dr. Karen Becker, also states that bones cut down on gum disease. Bones also firm up your dog’s poop, which aids in getting out toxins from the anus. Yes, not the loveliest image, but some dogs have issues with this and bones could actually help. But there are many dangers associated with bones as well. The Food and Drug Administration filed 68 reports of illnesses due to packaged bone treats in 2017 in which 15 of these dogs died. Some bones can also cause stomach problems, cuts in mouths, bleeding rectums, diarrhea, and more. This is why Dr. Karen Becker recommends dental bones which are all natural. It is also important to supervise your dog while eating a bone and to feed bones after a meal when Scrappy is less hungry and less prone to scarf down a bone entirely, which could be dangerous. It is also not advised to give your dogs rawhide or cooked bones like chicken and turkey bones. They are brittle and can cause a dog serious damage. If you choose to give your dog bones, many veterinarians recommend natural dental bones or raw meat bones.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are some mixed reviews when it comes to giving Scrappy that bone. Some experts say go for it, because bones prevent gum disease, and provide mental stimulation and nutrients. They also say it is part of a dog’s heritage and nature. On the other hand, others say don’t give bones or exercise extreme caution if you do. Horror stories about rawhide bones ensue about how it is processed with chemicals, a choking hazard, and tiny pieces are sharp and could poke the insides of a dog and possibly lead to death. Most agree that chicken bones are too brittle and also pose serious risks. All-natural bones, dental bones, and raw meat bones are good options.
When it comes to bones, just make sure you make an informed decision for Scrappy. Maybe go for dental bones, raw meat bones or a chew toy. Avoid cooked bones like chicken bones and heavily processed rawhide. Check every bone’s ingredients. After these considerations, Scrappy will surely be ready for a bone-A-pet-treat.