The Rebel In Me: (Don't) Give A Dog A Bone?

Rebellion is not in my nature. I drive the speed limit and I cross the road at a crossing on a green light. I am quite happy to conform to rules as long as I can be convinced that they make the least bit of sense.

Lately, though, I find myself questioning authorities more and more frequently. One of the reasons is the fact that the more I try to get myself educated about what is best for my dogs, the more I run into conflicting opinions. Whether it regards to dog training, nutrition or health care, no two experts seem to be able to agree on anything. Seriously, people, I know you mean well, but you are not being helpful!

If I was a queen I would take all the experts, lock them in a room, and wouldn't let them out until they've reached some kind of consensus.

The latest and the greatest, in my opinion, is the FDA's release No Bones About It: Bones are Unsafe for Your Dog. I do appreciate that there are risks associated with giving dogs bones. I also do appreciate that there is a reason behind the release. However, I do find such a non-discriminatory across-the-board ban on bones for dogs an extreme solution at best.

A dog and a bone are two things that belonged together since the dawn of time. Just a few weeks earlier I read a wonderful article by Dr. Stanley Coren, Ph.D. Why Do Dogs Love Bones? The Answer Involves Fat, Climate, and Evolution. Separating the two [a dog and a bone] feels like a completely unnatural act.

I was very happy to find a responding article by Dr. Patty Khuly, DVM, MBA on her Fully Vetted blog 'No bones about it!' The FDA Calls Bones for Dogs a Definite 'No-no'. Finally a voice of reason!

Yes, there are risks associated with giving dogs bones. It is important to be aware of those. But a non-discriminatory ban? If you stay away from cooked bones and stick with a few common sense rules, shouldn't your dog be able to enjoy the pleasure of chewing on a bone?

In closing the FDA suggests replacing bones with bone-like products made with materials that are safe for dogs to chew on. I assume they most likely mean rawhide chews?

I find that very interesting because there are plenty of warnings against rawhide products, listing many of the same risks, including salmonella, choking, intestinal blockage … the list goes on. Are these the safe bone-like products the FDA is talking about? Just wondering ...


  1. I've been feeling a bit in the minority when the FDA article came out. I mean, there has been so much evidence that raw meaty bones like marrow bones are great for dogs. I give them to Pru all the time. So I'm glad I'm not the only voice of dissension.

  2. Dear Ashley.

    Thank you for reading and sharing your opinion! I think it's like with many things these days - as many opinions as there are experts.

    To me a dog and a bone belong together. There are some risks involved--our vet mentioned he's seen many such cases as well--but I do believe that when giving raw bones only and using some common sense and caution the benefit should outweigh the risk.

  3. It's a simple equation. Completely edible raw meaty bones = good. All cooked/ smoked bones = bad.

    The FDA's article was just more misinformation and disinformation as part of the symbiotic relationship between pet food manufacturers and the veterinary community.

    Thankfully there are a few veterinary mavericks out there like Dr. Khuly.

  4. Dear Jim. Thank you for reading. It is simple to some of us but completely confusing to others.

    There are so many conflicting expert opinions out there that one almost needs a special education. It would almost seem that not knowing anything would be better.

    You're right that thankfully there are still voices of reason out there, such as Dr. Khuly.

  5. A lot of dogs don't seem to know how to slow down and chew. So it's important for dog owners to supervise and make sure the dog is not swallowing small pieces.

    One trick is to hold the bone the whole time the dog chews on it, for at least the first couple of bones the dog receives. Let the dog chew as long as he is actually chewing. If he starts trying to rip of small pieces or swallow the bone, then remove it from his mouth instantly for a second. Give it back as long as he continues to chew, and keep repeating this process.

    I agree, there are so many conflicting opinions about everything. No matter what I do with my dog, someone is going to criticize (and they do). I remind myself that no one cares about my dog more than I do.

  6. Hi Lindsay, thank you for commenting.

    I agree that selection of the bones and level of supervision depends on the dog.

    I actually hold Jasmine's bone too :-)

    I agree with you, we love our dogs and do what we figure is best. Looking to authorities doesn't not usually give straight answer. So common sense, personal experience with particular dogs and love ought to do it. If somebody doesn't like it, well, they can do it differently with their dogs.


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