Apex Dog and Cat Dentistry
945 W. Jefferson Ave.
Englewood, CO 80110
(303) 810-6029
[email protected]

By The Cold Hard Facts About Bone Chewing
July 12, 2012
Category: Disease Prevention

While browsing the pet store, I often am astounded at the items that are sold. Some items, are just so ridiculous they are cute. For example, the pink flower raincoat made for chihuahuas so they can go outside in the rain (assuming you bought the matching boots) is a bit excessive but very adorable. Unfortunately, there are many items that are on the shelves that can harm your pet. Specifically, the natural bones that are sold can cause many problems in your pet. As a veterinary dental specialist with lots of exposure to emergency cases, I hate seeing these items in the store. Many people assume that because a large pet store with a good reputation is selling an item, it must be good. But pet parent beware, no bones about it, bones can cause more harm than good for your pet.

As a veterinary dental referral practice, we most often see fractured teeth as a result of bone chewing. When you put a bone up against your pet’s teeth, the bone often wins and we end up with tooth breaks or fractures that often need to be treated with root canal therapy or extraction. Broken teeth where the inner part of the tooth is exposed (the pulp canal) should never be left to be monitored until problems occur. Treatment should be performed as soon as possible. Besides tooth fractures, we have seen many cases where the sharp fragments of the bone cause cuts or lacerations within the mouth. Bones are also the perfect size to get trapped between teeth and the jaw bones. If left in place, infection and tissue death within your pet’s mouth may occur. 

Outside the mouth, bones can wreck havoc in the gastrointestinal system. Bones can get stuck inside your pet’s digestive system anywhere from the esophagus to the stomach to the lower intestines. Worst case scenario, the pieces of bones can puncture the digestive system and cause severe inflammation in your pet’s body. These are all cases where surgery would likely be required and where your pet’s well being and life are put at risk. 

As a dad of a Labrador Retriever, I am all too aware that dogs need to chew. This behavior is natural but should be directed toward proper chewing items. For dental chews, recommended chews include CET flat rawhids chews, Tartar Shield treats, and Greenies. These treats are all approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (www.VOHC.org) to control plaque. Toys that encourage chewing can help prevent tartar deposition. Kong and Kong-like toys are great at mechanically cleaning the teeth. Rope toys (be careful they are not shredded) are also beneficial. In general, toys should be able to be bent or indented and should not hurt when lightly tapped against your knee (the knee cap test).

To help prevent tooth fracture, the chewing of safe items should be encouraged and the following items should be avoided:

  • Real Bones
  • Nylon Bones
  • Cow Hooves
  • Ice Cubes
  • Sticks
  • Cages (if your pet chews on them)
  • Rocks
  • Other hard treats or toys

As always, I welcome your feedback. Please forward comments or questions to DentistVet.com