Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "But Bones are so Dangerous" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog

But Bones are so Dangerous!

By Charlotte Peltz

Anytime the discussion surfaces about feeding bones - and most especially raw chicken bones! - someone volunteers that they are dangerous and the stories begin to be told.

"Well, my neighbor's dog ate a chicken bone and died suddenly right afterwards!" "Oh, you should have seen the pain my dog was in from the constipation!" "All my life I have been told how dangerous bones are for dogs." And lots and lots of times we hear --"My vet had a fit when I asked him/her if I could feed raw bones."

Dogs eating raw bones do not die immediately after eating one. Constipation certainly may happen and that is usually the result of the dog eating cooked bones, the very hard bones with no meat, cartilage or fat, or not being fed a proper percentage of raw fruits and vegetables! As for vets and their opinions, well, folks, what they learn about nutrition is primarily supplied by dog food companies. Dog food companies are in the business of selling dog food. Anything added to a dog's diet reduces the amount of dog food being sold. The equation is simple.

But -- is there a danger? Unfortunately, everything has a downside. Occasionally a bone can get lodged in the roof of the mouth or jammed in the dog's teeth. Removal of the bone is simple and the problem disappears. Dogs permitted unsupervised, unrestricted chewing of the long "marrow" bones can and often do crack their teeth or wear them down to nothing. The solution here is also a simple one - no long, hard bones, and certainly not left to be chewed for hours on end. And, surely there are real cases where bones have not properly digested and caused serious health problems requiring surgery. Since vets are so much in favor of kibble the real facts do not always surface -- meaning -- "Was the offending bone a cooked bone?"

Danger exists also for the dog who chews Nylabones and rawhide!

In a recent article in Whole Dog Journal, Dr. Susan Wynn feels the risk is too high and seems to believe the only benefit for dogs is clean teeth. Dr. Larry A. Bernstein, on the other hand, says that in 20 years of practicing conventional veterinary medicine he recalls many instances of dogs getting into the garbage and eating cooked bones of all types with "maybe -- ten -- who required surgery to remove obstructions."

Should you decide to feed raw bones, be certain to do your homework. Read the books I have recommended. Feed only raw bones -- never cooked. Supervise the chewing. Stools which follow bone chewing will be hard and white, but that is not a bad thing! Straining on the part of the dog suggests that too much bone was consumed. If the dog appears to be in pain when passing the stool, or does not produce a stool for a couple of days, call your vet.

If you decide to feed a raw diet take your time. Dogs unaccustomed to raw need to produce more and stronger stomach acids to digest those bones. If you do not take it slowly and help the dogs with digestive enzymes, you could have diarrhea rather than impaction! If the diarrhea clears up on its own in a couple of days it says the system is working -- if not -- seek help. Dogs with severe periodontal disease may well be unable to deal with bones. (Of course -- you can prevent that problem in the first place by feeding a properly balanced diet based on raw meaty bones!!) Some people who do feed a raw diet simply cannot overcome their fears, and feed the bones ground to a meal form, but that must include the bones and tissue surrounding the bone.

And, please -- do not make the mistake of feeding kibble and adding a lot of meat and bones to it! The entire balance will be thrown off and may well cause many, many health problems.
[Please see Charlotte's Recommended Reading.]

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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