Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Dog Bone Safety: Can Dogs Eat Bones?

Bones can be an enriching treat for your dog. Chewing can relieve boredom, anxiety and stress, and helps keep your dog's teeth clean. However, bones can be also harmful to dogs. Knowing that, you might be wondering what bones dogs can eat. Today, our Mechanicsburg vets explain the kinds of bones that are safe and unsafe for dogs.

Are bones good for dogs?

Usually, the answer is "yes." Bones not only provide minerals and nutrients, but they also satisfy your dog's appetite. Chewing also helps to prevent gum disease and plaque buildup by activating salivary enzymes. Furthermore, a dog who is chewing on a bone is less likely to lick or scratch his paws incessantly.

So can I give a dog a bone?

A better question to ask is, "Should dogs chew bones?"

In general, raw bones tend to be better for dogs than cooked bones. So if you’ve ever used your favorite search engine to ask, "Are cooked bones bad for dogs?" the answer is yes, but again, in general.

This is because cooked bones can cause injuries or even death if your dog gets splinters in their mouth or digestive tract (cooked bones are more likely to cause this, but raw bones can too). A dog chewing on cooked bones may have the following effects:

  • Lacerations or punctures to the gums and tongue
  • Cuts and wounds to the throat
  • Damaged or broken teeth
  • Choking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe constipation
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Perforation of the intestines
  • Rectal trauma and bleeding

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, contact an emergency veterinary clinic immediately.

What bones are not safe for dogs?

Cooked Chicken & Turkey Bones: These bones are most likely to splinter. Small bones are also more prone to getting lodged in the throat and esophagus than larger, more solid bones.

T-Bones: T-bones, due to their shape, can become stuck in a dog's throat on one end while the other end is down the esophagus or trachea. This can lead to severe swelling that can block the airway, preventing your dog from breathing.

Small Bones & Circular Bones: It's dangerous to give your dog any bone that splinters easily or is smaller than your dog's mouth. These may lead to oral and gastrointestinal injuries, not to mention the choking hazards. The fact that circular bones can become lodged in a dog's lower jaw makes them undesirable as well. Dogs typically require sedation if the bone needs to be cut in order to release their jaw.

What bones can dogs eat?

Generally, you want to get raw bones from a reputable butcher large enough to be easily grasped and about the size of your dog's head. It should also have bulges or lumps on both ends.

Although there are some risks, raw bones are considered a "safe" bone option. However, your dog may still get a bone splinter, cut gums, or break a tooth. Constipation can also result from excessive bone chewing. We recommend chilling a bone before feeding it to your dog. You should also throw it away a few days later.

General Rules for Bone Safety

If you do decide to give your dog a bone, here are some general safety tips.


  • Serve raw meat bones.
  • After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the bone and place it in the refrigerator.
  • After three or four days, discard the bone.
  • Give large bones to large breeds like German shepherd dogs, bloodhounds, and mastiffs.
  • When you give your dog a bone, keep an eye on him.
  • Be an educated consumer.

Do Not:

  • Give your dog the wrong type of bone for their size, breed, or physical health.
  • Give your dog cooked bones of any kind.
  • Allow your dog to chew any type of bone into small pieces.
  • Give your dog a bone if he has stomach problems.
  • Give your dog a bone to chew on if another dog is visiting, as this may lead to a fight.

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.

If you find your dog choking on bone, or noticed that the bone has splintered, contact our Mechanicsburg vets for immediate assistance.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center you never need an appointment to access our full complement of emergency services. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

Contact Us

Contact (717) 796-2334