Can dogs eat rib bones?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: It’s complicated.
Bones and dogs are one of those issues where veterinarians often disagree. Some argue they are safe under certain conditions, others argue they are just not worth the potential downsides since the nutritional needs they satisfy are met with commercial canine food and approved safe chew toys.
Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine
Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here
All vets, even those that advocate for bones under the right conditions, agree that you should avoid all of the following:
- NEVER: Feed your dogs cooked bones they can crack or swallow.
- NEVER: Leave your pup unattended when they're chowing down on them.
- NEVER: Allow your canine to have a bone that is small enough for them to swallow whole.
- NEVER: Give bones to multiple dogs unless they are completely separated as it is a common trigger for serious canine fights.
Can Dogs Eat Rib Bones? The Risks.
If you are sitting down with a plate of cooked ribs and want to give your pup the leftovers, don’t. Cooked bones are never okay to give your dog with one exception we will look at further in this article. Ribs don’t count as the exception.
There are many dangers associated dangers for canines. Cooked bones are brittle and when they shatter they can make very sharp edges which can injure or even kill your dog if ingested.
- Sharp shards of cooked bone can puncture the esophagus, the throat, the stomach, or the intestines. All of these are emergency situations. They can lead to expensive surgery, serious complications and even death.
- Hard cooked bones can get lodged in canines mouth, creating lacerations, a great deal of pain, and a trip to the vet.
- Choking hazard: Your pup is prone to trying to swallow things larger than he can handle. It is possible for them to bite off a bit from a larger bone then choke on the chunk.
- Because cooked bones are hard, if you give your dog one that is too big to choke on, it may still be a dental hazard. Canines can and do sometimes shatter their teeth by being overzealous with their chewing/gnawing!
Instead of giving your dog a rib bone for a treat, after your meal is finished, give them an alternative doggy treat that is safe for them to consume. Your pup relies on you to make good decisions for them.
Raw Bones: Still Not Out Of The Woods.
While some holistic vets and raw diet enthusiasts do recommend bones under the right conditions, there are still risks you should be aware of.
- Choking hazard: Canines can sometimes try to swallow things too big to fit down their throat and start choking. If you do decide to feed raw bones, they need to be too big for your pup to even think about trying to swallow them whole. If your dog starts choking, open their mouth reach to the back of their mouth, and try to pull the object out.
- Stomach blockage: If your dog is chewing on bones that are small enough to swallow, that does not mean they will be small enough to pass from the stomach to the intestine, a blockage that can be potentially fatal or cause expensive and invasive surgery to correct.
- Intestinal Blockage: When bones are digested they turn into a chalky like lump that can get stuck in the intestinal tract and/or create serious constipation. If you are going to feed raw bones, it needs to be in moderation.
- Parasites and food borne illness: The same risks that apply to humans in terms of eating raw meat also apply to canines. You are opening the door to potential health risks in feeding raw bones. Some suggest that freezing for several weeks prior to feeding raw to reduce these risks, however, there has not been much research to support this claim.
Safety Precautions For Raw Bones
If you are feeding a raw diet to your dog, chances are you are interested in how to safely feed raw bones to your pup. Remember that you can’t eliminate the associated risks, but you can try to minimize them.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
- The safest raw bones for consumption for dogs are the non-weight bearing small raw kinds of poultry, namely poultry wings and necks. For smaller canines, some raw food diet people will grind these in a food grinder and portion them in the freezer in meal size containers.
- If you are using raw bones for to give your dog something to gnaw on, be sure they are much too large to swallow and don’t let them eat huge quantities of bone marrow in one sitting as it is very high in fat.
- Always monitor your pup when they have a bone.
Cooked Bones: The Exception To The Rule
The one exception to the “never give your dog a cooked bone rule” is when you are giving them a large beef or bison shank or knuckle bone that is far too big for them to swallow, and too substantial for them to shatter.
These are the types often found at pet food supply stores, sometimes they are already hollow for stuffing, other times they still have the marrow inside for a tasty (but very high fat) treat for your pup.
Notice that rib bones are NOT one of the approved cooked bone exceptions.
Can dogs eat any type of rib bones from the great pile of cooked ribs you just ate? No.
Is There a Safe Way to Share Ribs with My Dog?
If you just can’t stand to have a great meal without sharing with your dog, then there are a few things that you can do to let your dog in on the fun, safely.
- Offer an alternative treat made just for dogs such as a toy stuffed with some peanut butter.
- Make a special set of a few ribs for your dog without additional spices and sauces, then take the meat and connective tissue off for him and discard the bones.
- Wait until it is time for you to eat dinner to feed your dog his dog approved meal.
- Consider a rawhide chew or bully stick for a fun and lasting distraction for your dog during your supper.
What Else Can Dogs Eat?
Check out some more frequently asked questions below:
Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer
Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.
For more info on Sharon click here