Dogs love bones. They will beg for them, bury them, and chew on them for hours. In addition to your dog’s enjoyment, there are some health benefits associated with feeding your pooch bones, including neck bones.
However, it’s important to know what types of neck bones are safe for your pooch before allowing them to indulge.
Can dogs eat neck bones?
The short answer is, yes, dogs can eat neck bones, with a few caveats. Not all neck bones are safe for your dog. We’ll take a look at the benefits of neck bones, and how you should feed them to your dog.
What Are Neck Bones?
Essentially, neck bones are what they sound like. They are the bones from the neck of an animal. Beef neck bones come from a cow, while pork neck bones come from a pig.
There are some differences in the nutritional content of different types of neck bones, but the basics remain the same. They provide important vitamins and minerals, protein, and fat.
Neck Bones for Joint Health
Neck bones contain lots of connective tissue and cartilage, which means it’s high in glucosamine and chondrotin. These nutrients are precursors to joint cartilage, which is why they are beneficial for joint health.
It’s particularly helpful for dogs with osteoarthritis, but it’s beneficial for all dogs. It can help keep their joints strong and healthy.
Neck Bones for Dental Health
Neck bones are also great for dental health. Neck bones are soft enough for your dog to crush with their teeth. When they do, the bone scrapes against their teeth.
This acts similarly to a toothbrush, removing plaque and food debris. Dental chews act in a similar way, but neck bones are a natural option that also provides nutritional and health benefits.
Neck Bone Nutriton
Nutrition will vary based on the type of bone. However, neck bones in general contain high amounts of protein, fat, and calcium. Chicken necks, for example, contain 52-53% protein and 23-27% fat.
Other types of bones will have a similar ratio, though it may vary somewhat. Dogs need both protein and fat in their diet.
Too much of either isn’t good for your pooch. It’s much easier for your dog to consume too much fat than too much protein, however. Even though neck bones are relatively high in fat, they are a healthy part of a balanced diet for most dogs.
Because they contain bone in the form of the spine, they are also high in calcium. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth.
Dogs Who Shouldn’t Eat Neck Bones
Neck bones are an excellent treat for most dogs, but they aren’t right for everyone. Due to their high fat content, dogs who need a lower fat diet shouldn’t consume them.
This includes dogs with pancreatitis and those who are overweight or obese.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas releases digestive enzymes. When it’s functioning properly, these enzymes activate in the intestines.
When a dog has pancreatitis, the enzymes activate as soon as they are released. They then cause damage to the pancreas and nearby organs, essentially partially digesting them.
This causes pain and stomach upset for the dog. Severe cases can cause organ dysfunction as well.
The cause of pancreatitis isn’t completely understood. Some dogs seem to be more susceptible than others due to their genetics. It is known that a high fat or high carb diet can trigger or worsen pancreatitis.
Dogs with the condition should avoid eating neck bones due to their high fat content.
Obesity is a big concern for pooches today. Over half of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs today.
When dogs need to lose weight, they are placed on a reduced calorie diet. Fat in itself won’t make your dog fat. However, fat has twice the calories that protein does.
This makes it an excellent energy source for active dogs. However, when a dog is overweight, this is because they are consuming too many calories. Since fat has a high calorie content, it must be reduced when reducing calorie intake.
Types of Neck Bones
There are several types of neck bones that are popular with dog owners. Chicken necks, turkey necks, and beef necks are commonly fed to dogs as treats.
Many owners prefer to give their dogs fresh necks. You can also choose dehydrated necks. These should be either freeze dried or dehydrated using low heat to prevent brittleness.
Dehydrated necks have a long shelf life. Fresh necks should be fed within a few days, or frozen until ready to use.
Can dogs eat pork neck bones?
Pork bones of any type are typically considered a no go for dogs. However, the truth isn’t quite that simple. Put simply, pork neck bones may be safe, even though other types of pork bones should be avoided.
There are other types of neck bones that are known to be safe, including chicken, beef, and turkey necks. You may want to avoid pork necks in favor of these other options.
Pork Bone Concerns
Pork bones tend to be larger and thicker than other types of bones. They are also more brittle. For these reasons, pork bones are not recommended for dogs.
This is an issue when feeding your dog most pork bones. However, it’s not as much of a concern with the softer neck bones.
Neck bones are not weight bearing, as bones like those in the legs are. Weight bearing bones must be hard and thicker to support the weight of the animal. Since the neck bone isn’t weight bearing, it’s naturally smaller and softer than other types of bones.
Trichinellosis is a parasite that is found in pork muscle. It’s unlikely to be contracted from pork neck, but it might be possible.
Symptoms of Trichinellosis include agitation, fever, and muscle aches and pains. It can also cause gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
Can dogs eat chicken neck bones?
Yes, chicken bones are great for dogs. They are a popular choice for a natural treat. Before giving your pooch chicken bones, there are a few things that you should be aware of.
Chicken necks can be a choking hazard, particularly for larger dogs. This is most likely with raw chicken necks, because they are soft enough for the dog to bite off larger chunks.
When feeding your dog chicken necks, you should supervise them to prevent choking. If you have a medium or large size dog, consider feeding a larger size neck to reduce the risk of choking.
Chicken necks should be fed raw or dehydrated, never cooked. Raw necks do pose a slight risk of bacterial contamination. Polyradiculoneuritis, or APN, is a disease that develops in dogs due to the Campylobacter spp bacteria.
It causes immune mediated nerve damage, similar to Guilliane Bar Syndrome in humans.
APN is a rare condition, but most cases develop from consuming raw chicken necks or wings.
To avoid this concern, purchase chicken necks from a reliable source. The necks should be tested and determined to be pathogen free.
Can dogs eat raw neck bones?
Yes, you can feed your dog raw neck bones. In fact, raw bones are recommended for dogs. However, there are a few potential issues to be aware of when feeding your dog raw neck bones.
Can dogs eat cooked neck bones?
No, dogs shouldn’t eat cooked neck bones of any type. When a bone is cooked, it loses its flexibility and becomes brittle. You may have noticed this in your own cooking.
This isn’t a problem for humans, because we don’t consume the bones. However, it is a problem for dogs.
The brittleness of cooked bones make them more likely to splinter. This can cause problems including choking, internal bleeding, and mouth injuries.
What to do if my dog eats a neck bone?
This depends on the type of neck bone they have eaten. A raw neck bone is perfectly safe for dogs. However, cooked bones do pose a health risk.
Raw Neck Bones
If your pooch eats a raw neck bone, simply supervise them while they are eating it. It’s best to give smaller dogs smaller necks, like chicken necks. Medium and large dogs do better with larger beef necks, but small beef necks are suitable for smaller dogs as well.
After they eat the neck bone, watch for any symptoms of gastrointestinal upset that could indicate bacterial contamination or pancreatitis.
Cooked Neck Bones
Cooked neck bones shouldn’t be fed to your dog. However, if your ingenuitive pooch manages to get their paws on one, the good news is they will probably be fine.
However, there are some steps you’ll need to take to be sure they are OK.
Monitoring Your Pooch
The best thing to do is monitor them for signs of problems due to bone splinters. Vomitting, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and lethargy can be signs of internal bleeding.
Check their mouth for signs of cuts or injuries. If you find injuries in their mouth, this increases the risk of internal injury, because they have swallowed splinters of bone.
If your dog develops symptoms of internal injury or they have cuts in their mouth, you’ll need to bring them into the vet asap. You can also bring them in for a checkup if you are concerned about them eating a cooked bone, even if they have no symptoms.
It’s probably not necessary, but it does err on the side of caution.