Dog Bone Safety: Can Dogs Eat Bones?

We've always seen dogs and bones as a natural pairing, but bones might just be a treat only for dogs in cartoons. Here, our Columbia vets discuss bone safety and whether or not dogs can actually eat bones.

In general, cooked bones are not okay for dogs to eat, but there are some bone or bone-like alternatives that could work for our canine companions.

Cooked Bones

Most people know that cooked chicken bones are bad for dogs.  Cooked bones of any kind can be dangerous because they break and splinter into small, sharp pieces that can cut your dog’s mouth and digestive organs. Shards of bone can cause several health problems, including:

  • Mouth and tongue lacerations
  • Choking
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe constipation
  • An intestinal blockage that may require surgery
  • Broken teeth
  • Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils

Raw Bones

In general, raw bones are a lot safer than cooked bones. However, there are some raw bones you should never feed your dog. These include:

  • Pork bones, which easily splinter and crack
  • Rib bones of any kind, which are small and likely to crack or get stuck in your dog’s throat
  • Any bone smaller than your dog’s mouth that they may swallow whole

When choosing a raw bone for your dog, look for one that’s about the size of its head. Why so big? Well, a big bone will let your dog chew while reducing the chance that they’ll break off and swallow a dangerous chunk. For extra-large dogs, raw beef and bison knuckle bones make great chews.


Some dog owners opt for bully sticks as an alternative to bones. Bully sticks are fully digestible and don’t break into hazardous pieces. They’re durable chews that will keep your pup busy, but they should only be used as treats. They’re not a replacement for balanced, nutritional dog food.

Whether you give your dog a raw bone, a bone-shaped treat, or a non-digestible chew toy, you should always supervise their chewing. Dogs will chew for hours if you let them, so make sure you remove the chew after 10-15 minutes

Any bone can cause a choking hazard when chewed into small pieces. So, you should always supervise your dog while they’re chewing a bone and take it away once it’s worn down to a size smaller than their mouth.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

More questions about what your pooch can and can't eat? Contact our Columbia vets today.