They are two things that seem to naturally go together — dogs and bones.
A dog holding a bone in its mouth is a well-known image all around the world. We see it in movies and on television.
Dogs loving bones are even mentioned in the nursery rhyme Old Mother Hubbard.
Why do dogs like bones so much? For many reasons, but mainly because dogs love to chew.
Why Dogs Love to Chew
Chewing gives a dog many benefits. Chewing hard objects helps to clean the teeth.
Chewing helps to relive boredom, anxiety and gives comfort. Chewing helps relive a dog’s excess energy.
With raw bones, dogs get the nutritional benefit of bone marrow, as well as nutritious minerals.
Puppies chew on bones and just about everything else to relive the pain of teething.
Chewing bones can help dogs with chronically itchy skin stop scratching for a while.
The act of chewing anything, including bones, is very pleasurable for a dog.
Chewing releases hormones in the body called endorphins, which help to reduce pain and promote happiness.
Since bones are really long-lasting chew toys, they give a lot of pleasure to a dog.
Dogs highly regard anything that gives them a lot of pleasure.
Bones Help Clean a Dog’s Teeth
Dogs can’t brush their teeth, so the only way they can clean them is by chewing on hard objects like bones.
The hard object helps to scrape all of the gunk off of the teeth. Bones can help keep a dog’s teeth clean.
However, they should not be relied on to clean a dog’s set of chompers.
You should brush your dog’s teeth or give treats that can help clean teeth.
Dogs should have their teeth checked at least once a year by a vet.
Bones should only be given as an occasional treat.
Any dog with bad teeth should not be given bones to chew. They will damage their teeth even further.
Dogs have been known to break a tooth and keep on chewing because they are on an endorphin high.
Dog breeds like pugs, Pekingese, or bulldogs have brachycephalic or very short faces.
They have shorter jaws than other breeds.
These jaws are often unstable, so the dog is prone to tooth loss. These dogs should not be given bones.
Why Dogs Love to Bury Bones
Dogs often bury their bones because they want to save it for later.
Burying anything of value is a good way to hide it from the eyes of others who would want to steal it.
This behavior helped their ancestors survive in the wild.
Even if they are indoor dogs without access to a back yard, they will still try to “bury” a favored item like a bone in their beds or even in the carpet, because the instinct to bury stuff is so strong.
Dogs bury anything they consider really valuable to also be valuable to others, including other dogs or even people.
This makes the valuable object worth hiding so it can’t be stolen.
Other things they bury include food, long-lasting chew treats, toys, items of their master’s clothing, rolls of toilet paper, rolls of paper towels, children’s toys, watches, jewelry, and just about anything they can get their jaws on.
The Wrong Bones to Give a Dog
Dogs do not instinctively know what food is good or bad for them.
They also do not know what bones are good or bad for them.
Avoid giving cooked bones, poultry bones, rib bones, and pork bones.
All of these bones are prone to splinter.
Sadly, dogs and puppies have been known to choke on bone splinters or have bone splinters pierce inner organs.
Even a puppy’s jaws are strong enough to break bones into killable pieces.
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell.
If they smell bones or other goodies in the garbage, they will get into the garbage.
Make sure all trash is placed out of a dog’s reach.
Keep in cabinets with child-proof locks.
Keep outside garbage in cans hard to tip over, with lids hard to knock off.
Never let dogs eat anything on the sidewalk or ground when going for walks.
The Right Bones to Give a Dog
The best bones to give are raw meat beef bones, except for the ribs, or oxtail.
Raw bones are best but need to be given right from the refrigerator.
Only let the dog chew for fifteen minutes or any meat on the bone or the marrow may grow rancid.
Let the dog have a good chewing session after the dog eats dinner.
Be sure to supervise the chewing, in case the dog starts choking.
Throw the bone out after a few days. Throw the bone out sooner if it breaks into pieces.
If this is too much work, then consider not giving bones at all, but giving treats that do the same things bones do.
There are long-lasting dental toys with special knobs on the ends to help clean the dog’s teeth.
Long-lasting dog treats like rawhide, deer antlers, bully sticks, or beef tendons not only give dogs chewing pleasure, but help clean the teeth.
There are also sanitized bones for dogs at pet stores and websites.
All of these, too, can break into small pieces. If they start to break up, throw them out.
The Least You Need to Know
Dogs love to chew bones because they provide food, teeth cleaning and help to release endorphins, which make a dog feel good.
Most bones are not safe to give to dogs.
They can break apart and cause serious injuries.
Raw beef bones, with the exception of rib bones, are generally safe if precautions are taken.
When in doubt, do not give the bone to a dog.
Dogs with bad teeth or are from breeds known to have bad teeth should not be given bones.