Can Dogs Digest Bones?

For clarity, yes, dogs can break down bones, but not all of them. It is not an incredible feat in the animal kingdom – both hyenas and bears consume and digest bones as vultures and tortoises would. Actually, the other animal that has been observed feeding on bones, too, is the rabbit. Also, you – the esteemed reader – can digest bones.

Although animals eat and digest bones for many different reasons, it is suspected that bone munching usually follows a feeling of nutrient deficiency.  However, this may not be the thing since, in the broader sense, dogs have learned this skill.

This read and article will open you up to the ins and out of dogs and digesting bones. You will also get to learn why you shouldn’t stop dogs from chewing bones. In the end, you will get to know the digestion specifics of the canine.

Dogs And Digesting Bones: The Guide

The question about dogs and whether or not they digest bones has been lingering in many dog owners’ minds. This section is a compilation of the online research made to respond to these frequently asked questions.

As already established in the primer, dogs are deeply in love with bones and enjoy chewing them. For dogs to feel particular merriment in its life, they can engage in excellent and straightforward ways of eating bones. Apart from proteins and minerals, bones give many nutrients.

The three reasons dogs can digest almost all bones they get are sharp teeth, a richly acidified stomach, and a digestive system wired for predation. A dog cannot break down all bones because of the difference in densities and sizes. The soft, edible ones can be absorbed well, and the harder ones may not make it past the throat because of toughness and injuries. What happens is that a dog will first crush the bone it has using its teeth. If that mission is successful, the dog will then try to swallow the small bone pieces.

If you are going to give your dog bones, always ensure that they are raw. This way, they will not splinter and hurt the internal system of the dog. On top of that, you should ensure that the dog does not swallow the bone whole.

Bone Digestion Longevity: Really, How Long?

When the bone successfully settles in the dog’s bowels, the overall processing time will depend on how much food the dog took in. Bone absorption happens for at least 24 hours, which is the same timeline as other foods.

Averagely speaking, food movement through the dog’s stomach is relatively slow. However, it quickens when it gets to the intestines.

The Bone Types That Dogs Can Eat

1. Fresh Raw

As you may have already picked out from the name, these bones are not subjected to any kind of cooking. Actually, these are the best for your pooch. Examples include lamb, beef, chicken, or turkey bones as the dog will find them soft and easy to digest.

2. Recreational 

The name implies that these types of bones are chewed for fun, and that is the case. Many times, they include hip bones or large femur from beef or bison.

3. Marrow

Although arguable, these are the best types of dog bones, you know, the natural kind. They are rich in nutrients and thus very healthy for the pooches. Also, their stability ensures that they don’t splinter. This means that the dog faces little to no risk of getting itself injured.

4. Artificial

Makers of artificial bones either use nylon or rawhide. While these may be toughened items which are unlikely to splinter, they do not have the natural flavor, and a picky dog will not adore them. However, a carefree dog will love chewing it and won’t stop until they get satisfied.

The Bone Types That Dogs Cannot Eat

Before anything else, you should know that whichever bone you choose should match the canine’s chewing ability and size. If the bone can be swallowed whole, for example, it has a great chance of causing harm to the dog or its digestive system.

The one type of bones that you should never allow near your dog’s muzzle is the cooked ones. The heat coming from the boiling business makes the bone brittle, meaning that it can splinter quicker than any other. Of all the bone types mentioned above, any of them can become unfit for the dog after being cooked – unlike the artificial ones (would anyone cook these?)

Bone Health Benefits

1. Dental Pluses

When a dog engages in the bone-chewing business, it is unlikely to develop any dental issues. Since the bone has some activity against the teeth, plaque will be thrown away. Also, calcium will not build up on the enamel, meaning that the dog’s teeth are unlikely to become yellow or get some periodontal diseases.

If the dog chews on soft bones, for example, rawhide, the exposed surfaces of the teeth will become smoother. This implies that the enamel will fight plaque efficiently.

2. Fiber

Fiber is an essential nutritional requirement for dogs, and that is what raw bones will give. The bones will scour and cleanse the dog’s gut. Also, fiber motivates healthy and proper fecal-matter movement that stimulates the glands in the anal area.

3. Minerals And Proteins

As mentioned elsewhere in the read, bones have minerals and proteins that are important elements in their bone growth. The minerals range from calcium and lysine to magnesium, selenium, and copper. These are all important for brood bitches and young pups as they assist in teeth, bone, and joint health.

4. Dog Entertainment

The bone-chewing activity is quite engaging and will help keep the dog busy for a long time. This means that their minds will be stimulated, which is good for all dogs regardless of their ages.

5. Urge Satisfaction

Dogs – more so puppies – are bone with a burning urge to chew on this and on that. If the puppy is teething, chewing on a chew toy or bone will motivate adult teeth to grow. The chewing helps the dog to put pressure on its gums and teeth. If the adult teeth are emerging, the discomfort felt by the dog will be relieved.

Precautionary Measures When Giving Dogs Bones 

As you have picked out to this point, bones are, really, a part of a dog’s diet that cannot be dispended. As you feed raw bones to the dog, ensure that you take the following precautions.

1. Put Unfinished Bones Back To The Refrigerator

Any bones that have meat and marrow in them need to be refrigerated. If you leave them out, they may accumulate bacteria or even rot. If the dog gets a spoilt bone, it is likely to wreak a lot of havoc in their systems.

2. Give Larger Bones To Larger Dogs

If yours is a large dog, you can get bones that are 5 inches or even more. I’m talking whole chicken frame, wings, large knucklebones, and mammoth marrow bones.

Do NOT give a big dog a small bone because it can quickly slide to the back of its mouth. Also, avoid bones that may break the dog’s teeth. Be mindful of feeding bones if your dog recently had remedial dental work.

3. Avoid Pork Bones And Give Rib Bones To Pups

If your pooch is a medium to large canine, it will likely run into trouble if you give it rib bones. Rib bones may make them absorb a little too much bone, which can create a jam. Painfully and unfortunately, the rib bones may break into smaller pieces, and thus, they may become choking hazards.

So, always keep a keen eye on your dog as you feed it bones to see its habits. While the dog may be having hard and extra-wide gullets to ingest bones, that same feature opens them up to choking.

Why Dogs Shouldn’t Be Stopped From Chewing On Bony Bones

The one thing that goes, without doubt, is this: DOGS LOVE CHEWING! If you want to keep the dog distracted for a couple of hours as you do your business, give your furry little friend a bone.

However, this practice of letting the pups chew has come under fire in recent years. Some skeptics point out that the dangers in and around bone chewing justify why bones should be kept away. These skeptics sight some already-mentioned problems like choking and damage to the digestive system of the canine.

Although the skeptics’ views have some grounding, they are unwarranted and extreme. While bones may pose dogs some danger, we have seen that they can also be beneficial. In any case, a responsible owner who takes all the proper precautions will mitigate the risks. As your pet’s parent, you need to care about its wellbeing.

Danger Comes Dependently (On The Breed)

You should understand that some dog breeds cannot chew bones in a safe way. For example, tiny dogs like Chihuahuas and the Japanese Spitz have delicate jaws, meaning that they are not built to handle any bones. A dog with a sensitive stomach may get ill if they eat bones; bone marrow is usually very rich and may trigger illness. Then, dogs whose teeth are weak risk teeth breakage or enamel scrape-off if given bones. You need to talk to your pet’s vet if you have any doubts about your dog handling bones.

Food-Prepared Bone Is A NO!

You may feel or be tempted to give your dog a bone that has been boiled for several reasons. It could be that you want the meat to be softer. However, that move can cause more harm than good to the dog.

Bones are usually a composition of two items, the protein collagen – which is the fibrously rigid component of ligaments and tendons. The other thing is hydroxyapatite, which is a mineral that contains calcium. While the collagen fibers provide scaffolding, the crystals of hydroxyapatite are usually gathering. Collagen brings together the crystals, and when they harden, the end product is a bone.

When the bone is prepared – primarily through boiling – the protein scaffolding becomes weaker. This means that the right amount of bite force will break the bone down. When this happens, the hydroxyapatite crystals fall out and into the dog’s stomach. In the end, the dog’s system will be full of splinters. If the fragments are a little too sharp, they may rip the dog’s stomach and intestines apart. The rule is that no bone that has gone through food preparation should get near the muzzle of your dog.

The Crucial-ness Of Supervision

As mentioned elsewhere in this read, you must watch the pet as it does its chewing business. However harmless the situation may be looking like, there is a chance that your dog can swallow a large chunk. Try to make checks from period to period. If you happen to see or notice any kind of danger, you will have a better chance of getting the bone of the dog’s grasp.

Danger And Food Are Always In Coexistence

No matter the precautions that you take, bone chewing will always have its touch of danger. However, and as you already know, life itself is full of risks. So, attempting to remove all the little dangers in the life of your dog is an impossible mission. Besides, the upsides of chewing bones outweigh any risks that come along. Ensure that you are as careful as possible and only give your dog the safe kind of bones.

Bonus Section: The Digestion Specifics Of A Dog

Before we move any further into this bonus section, here are some pointers to keep you warm:

1. The digestive system of a canine is the same as that of a person. However, they are vital noteworthy differences.

2. Averagely speaking, it takes between 8 and 12 hours before the dog’s system fully digests food.

3. Compared to dog digestion, food processing in humans take around three times less than that of dogs.

4. For dogs, particular foods can easily be broken down as compared to others. On some occasions, they are entirely unable to digest a meal.

5. You can learn and know how to show concern and care for and better your dog’s digestion. One of the tips is to avoid giving the dog any kind of greasy table food.

For both humans and their canine companies, proper nutrition and digestion are of importance. For the most part, we are always focused on what the dogs eat. We are also continuously checking to see the canine’s fecal matter to ascertain if the movements in the bowels are going okay.

Admittedly, we don’t have a lot of concern about a dog’s digestion, precisely what it comprises to the process. We don’t question the difference between our digestive systems and theirs, and we engaged in little discussions about food that dogs can’t digest. In that sense, we are quite limited.

The simplest, best way to check and monitor a pup’s health is by focusing on its digestion. This section will give you info about the digestive system of your dog. In the end, you will have everything you need to know to ensure and guarantee the smooth running of the system.

Wrapping Your Head Around The Digestive System Of A Dog

The entire digestion process is a product of the coordination of systems, organs, and enzymes. As mentioned before, a dog’s digestive system is like that of a person, but you will find some differences worth noting.

The whole gut – or the digestive tract – is like an elongated tube that starts at the esophagus and mouth area, goes into the stomach and then to the intestines (large and small), and then into the rectal space. While the tube does not include passing through organs like the pancreas and liver, these are important organs which assist in nutrient processing and digestion aiding.

Digestion happens in some way or the other at a part of the dog’s digestive tract. Actually, it wouldn’t be possible for a dog to experience full digestion if each component did not participate. Excluding the esophagus and the mouth, the other part of the gut (the digestive tract) is in the dog’s inside – where most of the nutrient absorption and digestion occurs. 

Dogs And Food Digestion: The Nitty-Gritty Details

To comprehend how dog digestion and the digestive system work, you need to look at it in portions. This section will break down the tract into four parts: the entry-point, the mid-point, the pre-exit points, and the additional organs.

1. The Entry-Point: Mouth And The Esophagus

Once the dog eats the kibble or protein you present it, the process of digestion starts. The lips and the front teeth bring the food into the buccal cavity – or the mouth. What follows is that the tongue then takes charge and pushes the food to the back area of the dog’s mouth. Then, the molars grind the food up before the swallowing process is initiated.

While adult humans have 32 teeth, dogs have 44. This means that at the entry point, mastication – or the chewing of food – gets completed efficiently and quickly. It is an alarming thing when our pooches consume two food cups in under a minute!

The process of mastication breaks food into tinier particles. It then helps mix food with the saliva to ease movement down the dog’s esophagus, a hose-like, muscled tube that passes to the stomach through the chest and neck.

As compared to that of humans, dog saliva does not have any digestive enzymes. The liquid merely serves the role of a lubricator. It helps the food boluses pass through the esophagus without getting stuck. 

2. The Mid-Point: Stomach

For dogs, digestion that involves enzymes starts in the bowels, or formally, the stomach. A dog’s stomach is more of a structure that looks like a sac, has thick walls, and is made of smooth muscles. The stomach’s inner surface contains many gastric folds that help in grinding and breaking down food. The lining of the gastric folds secretes HCl (hydrochloric acid), mucus, and proteases (or enzymes that digest proteins). All these secretions turn the food that arrives in the stomach into chyme, which is a liquid mush.

On top of breaking it down, the stomach also stores food. The food reserves are active for between 8 and 12 hours. Contrastingly, it only takes between 30 and 90 minutes for the food to pass through a person’s stomach.

If you look at the dogs’ ancestry, you will realize that most of them stayed for long periods without a meal. So, whenever food would present itself, they would eat as much as possible. Resultantly, the dog’s stomach stretches to accommodate the coming food. In a regulated way, the food gets released into the small intestine. Unlike humans, therefore, dogs can save food and store it for later.

3. The Pre-Exit Points: The Intestines

When the liquefaction is adequately done, the chime created moves forward and into the small intestine. The small intestine is the site of food absorption. If you can recall from science class, the duodenum is the first part of the small intestine. It contains ducts that lead to the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. These are the organs that give the last digestive juices and enzymes. To ensure that the remaining gastrointestinal tract is not reduced, the chyme’s acid level is reduced.

The duodenum, the food, joins the second, more extended part of the small intestine, known as, you guessed it, the jejunum (I am sure you said ileum). The food that has been mechanically broken down, acidified, and processed by enzyme undergoes absorption and nutrient extraction in the jejunum. To aid in the absorption of the nutrients, the jejunum has villi, which are finger-looking projections. These assist in picking the nutrients from the food and pulling them to the bloodstream across the lining of the intestine.

The leftover items, or waste, which has no nutritional value, moves into the ileum! This is the shortest and last section of the small intestine of a dog. It is the one forming the connection between the large and the small intestine.

The colon starts in the large intestine, where moisture gets removed from the waste. As it passes via the colon, it forms into firm poop. If there are any minerals in the fecal matter, they are extracted here. Whatever remains moves into the rectum and then into the litter box.

4. The Additional Organs: Liver And Pancreas

While the liver and the pancreas are not an active part of the gut, they help get nutrients ready to be absorbed and digesting food properly.

Let us focus on the pancreas as it gives hormones and enzymatic juices that facilitate digestion. The action of the pancreatic juices starts in the duodenum, which is where they enter. They help break down proteins, sugars, and fats to be all absorbed into the jejunum. Insulin, which is a pancreatic hormone, helps in appetite stimulation and sugar regulation.

The liver is the site where bile is made. Bile then moves to the gall bladder, where it is stored. It adds to chime to help in fast digestion and utilization. When the jejunum absorbs nutrients, they mostly go to the liver for processing and use throughout the entire body.

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