Watching a dog wag his tail and happily run off with a fresh bone to chew is one of those small amusements that make most people smile. Licking and chewing are natural habits for dogs of all breeds. It starts in early puppyhood out of curiosity as well as for teething purposes.
As they get older, chewing on hard objects like bones becomes a pleasurable pastime that removes plaque from the teeth while adding valuable calcium, vitamins, and minerals to a dog’s diet.
Some dogs enjoy chewing more than others and may chew unsafe objects if they aren’t given a healthy alternative. Many pet owners spend a considerable amount of money on chew toys and bones, but what are the limits for dogs and bones? It’s time to explore how long a dog should chew various types of bones.
How Long Should a Dog Chew on a Marrow Bone?
There’s some controversy over marrow bones in the dog industry. These bones contain natural marrow in the center, so many dog owners feel they’re providing additional nutrients for their pet. Many veterinarians counter that the nutritional benefits are outweighed by several risks:
- Marrow bones are hard and can break a dog’s teeth
- Marrow bones may splinter, leading to serious digestive issues
- Raw marrow bones can become insanitary if not handled properly
If you choose to give your dog a marrow bone, don’t leave them unattended. Make sure someone is present in chase your dog breaks a tooth or experiences other discomforts. While most pet owners never experience those issues, it is possible.
20 or 30 minutes is enough time for any dog to enjoy a hard marrow bone. Limiting their chew time will make the bone a special treat while limiting the risk of broken teeth.
How Long Should a Dog Chew on a Raw Bone?
Any uncooked bone can fit into the raw dog bone category. These bones are typically filled with marrow and bursting with flavor, so they’re a favorite for many dogs.
Pet owners often consider them necessary dietary supplements because they contain vitamins and minerals that dogs need. Raw bones are also the preferred bone for pets on a completely raw diet.
Raw bones are softer than cooked bones, so they’re less likely to break a dog’s teeth. In fact, feeding a dog small raw bones provides tons of nutrients while presenting very little risk of a broken tooth or intestinal blockage. Those bones are often consumed quickly, so there’s no need to limit chewing time.
There are also some raw bones that are slightly less nutritious and much larger. Think about neckbones and knucklebones here. These are much harder even when uncooked and take more time to chew. They also present greater risk for broken teeth and digestive issues, so limiting a dog to about 20 minutes of chew time per day or every few days is reasonable.
How Long Should a Dog Chew on a Rawhide Bone?
Rawhide bones are made from natural animal skin. The outer skin is turned into leather, and the inner layers are sometimes used to create dog bones. Due to the processing, these bones have virtually no nutritional value. In fact, when too much rawhide is consumed, it may fill the stomach so that a dog doesn’t want to eat food for a longer period of time.
There are some risks that come with rawhide bones, including intestinal blockage if a large chunk of the bone is swallowed. Dogs may also choke when trying to swallow large pieces of a rawhide bone.
If you choose to give your dog a rawhide bone for dental purposes or pure pleasure, limit their chew time to under 20 minutes per day. That should prevent them from filling up with rawhide so that they still eat the nutrient-packed food you offer. Less time chewing also means less risk of a broken tooth or digestive blockage.
How Often Should a Dog Chew a Bone?
A dog chewing a bone seems natural, considering canines come from wolf lineage. What many people fail to realize is that dogs have been domesticated for many years. The dogs raised as pets today have never lived a day of their lives in the wild. They don’t hunt down and kill prey for dinner, and they don’t have the same nutritional needs or behavioral expectations of wild animals.
Dogs still have that canine energy, and many enjoy a good bone, but they don’t need to eat bones daily. They definitely don’t need multiple bones in a single day. Small raw bones are a great nutritional supplement, but two or three per week is enough. Giving one as a treat a few times a week is adequate and ensures a dog continues to enjoy their bones.
Harder bones come with greater risks and reduced nutritional value, so they’re optional. The less time a dog has to chew these bones, the less risk they have of breaking a tooth or experiencing digestive side effects or even a complete intestinal blockage. 15 to 20 minutes of recreational chew time every few days should deliver the pleasure a dog craves while cleaning the teeth of plaque.
Can I Give My Dog a Bone Every Day?
It’s common for dog owners to use bones as pacifiers. They give a bone when they need to leave the dog unoccupied or want them to play independently for a period of time. Unfortunately, that leaves the dog more vulnerable to injuries while chewing the bone.
The biggest danger is the dog may not have a caregiver nearby to help if they break a tooth or experience other problems. Too much bone or rawhide can also lead to constipation and other digestive issues. It can even make some dogs less inclined to eat other foods.
Dogs can chew bones daily if they’re small and soft. Some dogs offered an entirely raw diet will consume more raw bones than other dogs who receive hard kibble or canned food.
It’s important to remember that bones are a supplement and should make up about 10% of a dog’s diet. That means they aren’t necessary on a daily basis unless there is a nutritional need for more vitamins and minerals.
Most dogs are happy and well nourished when offered bones every two or three days. Hard bones should have more limitations than soft bones, and the same goes for large bones that are difficult for dogs to chew.