Few things delight dog owners more than seeing the glee on their furry friends’ faces as they indulge in their treats, and dogs love few things more than bones. Of course, the last thing dog lovers ever want to do is unintentionally allow harm to come to their canine companions. One might accordingly wonder if rib bones are among the bones that are safe to give to dogs.
According to PetMD, rib bones are not recommended as dog treats. Both cooked and raw rib bones are prone to splintering while dogs chew on them, and this makes them choking hazards. Even if your pet avoids choking, the bone shards can still cause damage to the mouth, throat and intestines.
Once inside of the intestines, the shards can not only cause lacerations, but they can also create intestinal blockage that may lead to constipation. Further, it is not just the splintering of rib bones that often results in health consequences. The fatty tissue on them can trigger vomiting and diarrhea that, in turn, bring about dehydration and protein deficiency as well as other intestinal disorders. Moreover, an ongoing diet of any high-fat foods may eventually bring on pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening.
The American Kennel Club adds that the risk of pancreatitis is especially high for dogs because their bodies are not ideally designed to process the amount of saturated fat that is in rib bones, particularly pork rib bones. Symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, lack of energy, diarrhea and declines in appetite. Dogs also often have bad reactions to the sauces, seasonings and spices that we typically put on ribs.
Any blockages resulting from bone shards may cut off the circulation in the affected tissue and kill it, and these blockages have to be surgically removed. The aforementioned lacerations can cause internal bleeding, which is also potentially fatal. While dogs will initially appreciate the taste of the treat they get in the form of a rib bone, this temporary pleasure will likely give way to these serious imminent risks of substantial harm.
Dr. Karen Becker points out that the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine actually advises against giving dogs any bones, regardless of the bone size and strength. While it is unclear if this recommendation applies to all bones or just cooked ones, it is known that cooking bones makes them more brittle and accordingly more likely to splinter. In addition, cooking reduces any nutritional content that might otherwise be beneficial.
These harsh realities do not mean that we have to be complete killjoys with our dogs and deprive them and ourselves of joy in order to keep them healthy. PetMD recommends antlers, bully sticks and strong rubber chew toys as safe alternatives. By selecting toys for our dogs that seem too big for them, we can reduce the risk that they will be able to tear the toys with their powerful jaws and swallow the fragments.