Dear Tabby,

My husband insists that it’s fine to give our dog the bones after we enjoy a meal of poultry or steak. I feel like that’s dangerous. Can you settle our dispute?

Bone to Pick in Oak Forest

Dear Bone to Pick,

I’ll let you break the news to him, but in this case, your husband is wrong. We can award him points for knowing that bones can be OK for dogs to ingest sometimes, but only raw bones -- not bones that have been cooked.

But, let’s dive a little deeper into this topic ...

Raw bones have benefits

If you can imagine a time when dogs were wild and hunted and killed their prey, it makes sense they would have eaten the raw bones of their fresh kill. Because of this, dogs’ digestive systems are well-equipped to digest raw bones.

In fact, bones provide many beneficial vitamins for dogs such as phosphorus and calcium. The minerals found in raw bones also stimulate the creation of enzymes in a dog’s saliva, which helps to protect and clean a dog’s teeth and gums.

Say no to cooked bones

Cooked bones, however, are a different story. Once bones are cooked, they become dry, brittle and can splinter easily. If a dog eats a cooked bone that splinters, this can cause some very serious medical problems. Splintered bones can cause choking and even perforate organs -- both of which can prove to be fatal.

Sometimes, however, dogs get a hold of a cooked bone, either from nosing through the trash or from begging at the dinner table. If this happens, it’s important to watch him closely for several days to make sure he isn’t experiencing any strange symptoms. Bloody stools, swelling in the stomach area and discomfort are all signs you might have a problem on your hands. In this case, seek medical treatment quickly.

Alternatives to cooked bones

Many pet stores sell raw bones that make a nice treat for your dog. These bones are safe for your dog to enjoy with supervision. You can also look for digestible dog treats, such as “bully sticks,” which are cow Achilles tendons, that give your dog something to chew on and shouldn’t upset his stomach.

So, to settle this dispute, cooked bones are not a good idea but raw bones are actually pretty great for dogs. Just make sure you monitor your dog if you give him a raw bone. Watch for choking or any signs the bone might be causing mouth abrasions and never leave your dog unattended while enjoying a bone.

Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at deartabbyquestions@gmail.com.

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