To a dog, there is nothing as pleasurable as a wholesome bone. Generally speaking, bones are good for dogs.

They are excellent source of protein and minerals and they perform the very useful function of keeping a dog’s teeth free from scale. To my mind the biggest advantage of a meaty bone is that dogs enjoy them so much. So often our domesticated dogs lead dull lives. They lay in the back yard for hours with little to interest them. No wonder they leap into a paroxysm of barking whenever a stranger or another dog walks past the front gate as this is probably the highlight of their day. A bone can change all that.

A large raw bone will keep a dog content for hours. If you are in the habit of leaving your dog unattended during the day, leave a raw bone out for him occasionally. This will delay the onset of boredom and may help to stop the dog barking during your absence. This works even better if the dog is locked in a small comfortable room, such as a laundry at the same time, as the joy of gobbling up the bone will transfer to the fact that he is locked up in his own special room.

The best type of bones to feed are the softer types. The soft brisket bones are excellent, knuckle bones are good and so are the large marrow bones. Raw bones are far preferable to cooked, as raw bones can be digested a lot more easily.

By comparison, the wrong types of bones can certainly cause problems. Bones such as chop bones, ‘T-Bones’, chicken bones and fish bones should never be fed. These bones have a dangerous tendency to splinter into sharp fragments which, when swallowed, can perforate the dog’s bowel, with life threatening consequences.

When a dog crushes a bone it can also wedge inside the dog’s mouth. They often wedge transversely between the teeth on the left and those on the right side of the mouth or they can lodge over a molar tooth where they become stuck like a bulldog clip.

Dogs witha bone lodged in their mouth are most unhappy. They paw frantically at their mouth, they drool excessively and if the bone is stuck for several hours before it is detected, they develop breath that smells worse than a kilogram of decayed prawns. Bones lodged inside the mouth can sometimes be removed by levering the bone out with a blunt instrument such as the rounded metal handle of a strudy dessert spoon. However this can be very difficult and dangerous as the dog may be so frantic that it will try to bite. The best solution is a quick trip to the veterinarian.

Constipation is often caused by feeding excess amounts of bone to a dog. The bone fragments tend to cement the dog’s droppings together and the resultant lumps are so hard that they cannot be passed. This problem is especially common with Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and similar breeds with powerful jaws as they are easily able to crush a whole bone and to consume it in a matter of seconds where a dog with a less powerful jaw will take several days. It is not difficult to tell whether your dog is coping with the bones you are giving him. After your pooch has gobbled a bone, examine his droppings over the next few days. I he has difficulty in passing his motions, if his motions are excessively hard and dry, or if they contain visible fragments of bone, then he consumes the bone too quickly and does not chew them sufficiently. In this case, either eliminate bones from his diet, or give him bones much less frequently and when you do, give a smaller quantity and select bones that are a softer type.

If, a day or so after feeding your dog a bone, your dog appears to be straining excessively without passing any motions, then a visit to your vet is indicated immediately as serious constipation could have resulted. Many a Bull Terrier has required emergency abdominal surgery to remove a huge amount of impacted faeces from the lower bowel because too many bones have been fed.

When you give your dog a bone, remove uneaten remains after 24 hours because they are likely to become fly-blown. If left to ‘mature’ in the sun, the bone will harbour numerous dangerous bacteria which would cause a bowel infection if the dog were to swallow them.

For further information please contact an Animal Control Officer on (07) 4783 9800 or your local vet.

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