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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ask the Vet with Dr. Mark:
The Dangers of Animals Bones

by Mark Nunez, DVM
© courtesy Mateuszz via
Natural Bones Have Multiple Dangers

Hello Dr. Mark: My husband hunts deer. He brought home some deer bones for Rex, our Jack Russell mix. I suggested he cook them to kill parasites or germs but he wanted to feed them raw. What do you recommend regarding raw vs. cooked bones? I wanted to cook them on the grill.

Hello Wendy,

You are correct, cooking them would kill harmful bacteria; however, the risk of stomach and intestinal problems would still remain.  Many people feel that dogs need bones in their diet, but this is simply not true.  If they are eating a high quality diet (home cooked OR commercially purchased) they will be getting all of the appropriate vitamins and mineral they need.  In addition, there are MANY safe alternatives for keeping their teeth clean and their gums healthy.  

While cooking the bones helps to decrease the risk for bacterial contamination, it makes them more brittle and more likely to splinter.  These splinters can lodge anywhere in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, or intestines.  I have also seen bones cause intestinal obstructions, with or without intestinal perforation.  The bottom line is the risk does not out weigh the benefit when it comes to bones.  I recommend finding safer alternatives for oral health and for dogs that just love to chew on things.  Thanks for the question!

Dr. Mark
© courtesy m.n.
Dr. Nunez
Dr. Nunez is a practicing veterinarian while also assisting patients through The Balanced Canine blog and his own online veterinary pharmacyHave a question for Dr. Mark? Send it to You can also follow Mark on Twitter.

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Dr. Mark's virtual advice is not a substitute for an actual examination with a veterinarian.


Peggy Frezon said...

This is a great question and answer. Kelly loves to chew bones but I don't give them to hear anymore. She isn't interested in Kongs or Nylabones...or the peanut butter trick. Still she keeps busy with toys and other food so I guess it's okay.

Erik said...

Well stated!

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