Thanksgiving’s almost here, and a reader wanted to know if it’s okay to share the leftover bones from her holiday turkey with her dog. Here’s what I told her, and why.
Q: With Thanksgiving coming up, I was wondering if it’s OK to give my dog the leftover turkey bones from the feast?
A: I know it’s tempting, but that’s not a good idea — no bones about it.
Dogs certainly love to eat bones, and during the holidays they are extra tempted to raid the trash for leftovers or steal meat with bones off the table, but cooked bones hold risks you don’t want to deal with. They can splinter, puncturing the intestinal tract and potentially causing serious or even fatal bacterial infections.
Bones can also cause an intestinal blockage. When that occurs, you may be taking your dog to the veterinarian for X-rays every day or two to make sure the bones are dissolving and passing safely through the system and out the back end. Worst-case scenario, your dog will need emergency surgery to remove the blockage.
There are other reasons not to give bones of any kind:
— Large or oddly shaped bones (think T-bones or beef vertebrae) can become stuck in the esophagus, causing choking, or elsewhere in the intestinal tract.
— Dogs who gulp bones instead of gnawing them thoroughly can choke on them.
— Dogs can break a tooth on a bone, requiring an expensive repair or extraction.
— Bones can become lodged on the lower jaw and must be removed by the veterinarian.
— An assortment of bones or bone fragments in the intestinal tract can cause canine constipation.
— Sharp bone fragments passing through can cause pain and bleeding from the rectum.
Bottom line: I always advise against giving dogs poultry or fish bones, and other bones are cause for concern as well. To prevent unauthorized bone intake, don’t leave them on the counter or in a trash can that is accessible to your dog.
Read more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.