Chewing bones can provide health benefits for your dog. Not all bones are safe, however. The following tips will help you to avoid serious hazards while giving your pet a healthful and enjoyable treat.

Not all bones are alike:

 Avoid bones which splinter, such as poultry, rib, pork chop and steak bones.

Hard (cortical) bone is the most common and is found in shank, stew, steak and rib bones. This dense bone is harder than enamel and will not give under the pressure from a dog's strong jaws. Fractured and broken teeth often result when dogs chew on hard bones. Round steak bones can also slip over the end of a dog's lower jaw and become caught; causing panic, trauma and necessitating anesthesia for removal.

 Select bones which are softer than your dog's teeth (enamel).

Spongy (cancellous) bone is best and is found at the ends of long (leg) bones and in oxtails. Also called knuckle bones, these bones are softer than tooth enamel. Knuckle bones have cartilage over the ends which gives to the dog's teeth and encourages chewing. Bone sawdust shaved from this spongy bone provides calcium, minerals, roughage and firmness to the stool aiding in proper anal gland emptying.

 Small bones should be avoided, as your dog might swallow them whole, leading to intestinal blockage.

Oxtail bones can be used for toy breeds

Bones must be trimmed closely of all fat, gristle and meat.

Boiling first aids in removing fat and loosening scraps. Scoop out and discard the marrow which is mostly fat. For most dogs, fat can be a serious health hazard. One gram of fat provides more than three times the calories of one gram of carbohydrate. Many dogs are overweight and the extra burden of joint and marrow fat can bring on a sudden intestinal upset or a serious attack of pancreatitis. Middle aged and older or overweight dogs are at higher risk.

If your dog is likely to take his/her bone and bury it or if your dog works at the bone nonstop, offer it to him/her only under supervision for 20 minutes twice a week. Store the bone in the freezer in between chewing sessions. During summer time be cautious about allowing your pet to chew the bone out of doors due to the yellow jackets and foxtails or grass awns which can work up into your dogs nostrils.

Raw Poultry Necks are also and option: Please see information sheet on Poultry Necks for Good Dental Health for details.