Bones and pets
Bones have some advantages and several disadvantages. They are mainly given to pets to keep their gums and teeth clean and healthy.
By themselves, they can be a complete meal, just like pets in the wild.
However, vets are often faced with pets who have damaged themselves when eating bones.
Cooked bones are NOT suitable for pets.
The stomach acids can not dissolve them, and they come out of their bottom the same way they swallowed them.
We often have to deal with constipated pets on Monday or Tuesday after they have been fed the weekend BBQ chop bones or Sunday roast bone.
Occassionally, the bone fragments don't get as far as the rear end, and cause a blockage in the stomach or intestines. If severe, bone blockages can kill a pet.
Some cases require emergency surgery to open the bowel and remove the bones which is a very expensive exercise.
Chicken bone bowel blockage
We probably remove 2-3 fractured main upper molars in dogs every month. There is a trend amongst vets specialising in dentistry to avoid large "dinosaur" or "soup" bones.
Some dogs don't realise their own jaw strength and bite down so hard they fracture their main upper molars (carnassials). This can exposes the root canal leaving a very sore tooth and potential for a large painful tooth abscess to form. These teeth have to be removed which unfortunately means the lower teeth now don't have a tooth to "match-up" with, and they are more prone to getting plaque and tartar buildup.
I have seen 3 smaller breed dogs die suddenly when trying to swallow a whole chicken neck/wing or a smaller piece of gristle/bone (see photo below).
I have also seen some mighty big bone fragments get stuck in the oesophagus (the food tube between the mouth and stomach) in large dogs (see the xrays below)
I have sent 3 dogs to a specialsist centre to have large bones removed from their oesphagus at a cost of approx. $4,500 each, and that was over 7 years ago (see radiographs below).
Be very careful when thinking about feeding bones to your pet. Consider the dog's size and the possibility of it breaking off a large section and swallowing it, only to have it get stuck in their throat or chest.
Bone stuck in throat case
Food Poisoning from Raw Chicken
Yep...this is one of the biggest urban myths I have come across. A client of mine 20 years ago was doing a PhD at Wollongong University. She went to the local big name supermarket and cultured up all of their raw chicken (in both the human and pet food sections). She showed me the results and there it was- lots of E.Coli, Salmonella and a host of other nasty bacteria.
I have to admit, I had been "suckered in" on the belief that raw chicken necks and wings were great for dogs and cats. We were recommending them to all our clients.
But after seeing the results, I suddenly realised we were seeing lot of pets with severe gastroenteritis- sometimes with blood and mucous in the vomit and diarrhoea.
I also thought to myself, when cooking chicken you have to extra careful about contaminated plates and cooking utensils and making sure the chicken is cooked through. Not so much of a worry with red meats - a medium raw steak is no issue.
The chicken industry sometimes have to use antibiotics, but overuse has led to the emergence of lots of nasty bacteria in the industry.
If anyone tries to tell me otherwise, I tell them "Let's sit down and I'll eat a raw steak and you eat some raw chicken necks, and let's see how we go".
Pets can develope colonies of these nasty bacteria in their intestines. They can easily spread to owners and especially children handling the pet and not taking the necessary hygiene precautions.
Raw Chicken The Myth
What Bones are Best?
Well, this depends on the size of your dog, how intent it is on breaking the bone withs its teeth etc.
Some of the specialist vet dentists don't recommend bones at all!
Personally, I don't mind raw brisket bones for most dogs. They can be a bit fatty, so if a dog is porne to pancereaitis, they are off the menu.
To keep the teeth clean, use pigs ear, rawhide chews, dental sticks, Hills T/D or Vet Essentials dry foods and daily brushing.
- No raw chicken (necks, wings or other parts)
- No large bones
- No cooked bones
- No small bones which small dogs can choke on
- Brisket bones for dogs appear to be the safest
- For bad teeth and gums, look at other alternatives (see Dental Care for Pets)