Bones and rawhide are a regular feature in the pet store, but are they safe for our dogs and should we feed them to our puppies? 

‘Nick nack paddy whack, give the dog a bone’ as the rhyme goes, we’ve fed bones to dogs for centuries, dogs and bones kind of just go hand-in-hand so what could be the problem?

Rawhide is widely sold as a chew. I’m sure we all remember buying our dog a rawhide ring, or lace up boot from the local pet shop as children, but puppy nutrition, and what is and isn’t safe for dogs to eat, has come a long way since then. So we’re going to give you facts about bones and rawhide which may make you think again about feeding them to your dog. 

Corgi eating bone
Photo by Brandon Cormier on Unsplash

Do puppies eat bones and rawhide?

Puppies and dogs need to chew, that much is chew, I mean true, sorry. But, they’re also scavengers, and thousands of years of living with or close to man and the results of domestication mean they can and will eat almost anything, even if it’s not good for them! 

So yes puppies do eat bones, and they do eat rawhide. If you’re feeding your puppy a raw or BARF (bone and raw food) diet, then feeding a chicken wing or neck might be second nature to you, but if you’re feeding your puppy kibble, wet or home cooked food, the thought might not have occurred to you.  Most people know not to feed cooked poultry bones to dogs but they will often feed cooked bones or smoked bones as found at pet shops. 

People often buy rawhide for puppies because they don’t realise what it’s made up of. Rawhide is marketed as a long lasting, safe and cheap chew, but it’s actually a product that came about as a waste by-product of the meat and leather industry and is heavily processed in a number of undesirable chemicals. 

If you’re unsure what chews are safe for your puppy or have some questions about what to feed your puppy, then download the Zigzag app and get in touch with the puppy coaches. They’re all fully qualified dog trainers and behaviourists and will be happy to help you. 

Are bones and rawhide bad for puppies?

Are bones or rawhide for puppies a safe bet to give them? How do I feed my puppy dog bones? Don’t they need them for teething, or are they bad? 

Sorry to say but rawhide and bones for puppies can both be bad, and here’s why….

puppy with chew one in mouth
Photo by Aditya Naidu on Unsplash

Rawhide for Puppies

Rawhide chews are made as a by-product basically leftovers (i mean imagine.. yuk) from the leather and meat industry, and they’re the inner hide of animals, usually horses or cows. Feeding dogs’ animal hide might sound ok, but they go through many chemical processes in order to get them into the end product that we see in the pet shop which causes the following problems:-

  • Rawhide is hard for our puppies to digest

It can actually take months to digest. Those chunks that your puppy pulls off can cause problems, creating blockages or puncturing the intestine. 

  • Rawhide is very hard

Chewing on very hard chews can cause tooth damage for puppies and dogs. You might think they’re great for cleaning their teeth, but it can be too much, have a look at our article on how to  teach your puppy to have their teeth brushed instead. 

  • Choking hazard!

Rawhide poses a massive choke hazard. It’s designed to be eaten slowly, but puppies are greedy and really go to town on rawhide, this can cause chunks to come off which they can choke on.

Bones for Puppies

So, if Rawhide isn’t great for puppies what about bones? Unfortunately, bones aren’t that great either. Here are some of the risks..

  • Bones are bad for your puppy’s teeth 

Your puppy’s teeth aren’t fully developed yet, and hard bones can cause damage by breaking them. This can be a costly mistake when you have to take your puppy to a doggy dentist. Pick a toothbrush instead to keep those teeth healthy.

  • Bones can splinter 

Your puppy may not have bone-crushing jaw strength or huge canines yet, but what this means is their needle sharp teeth can actually shear off large pieces of bone, leaving very sharp edges which can cut their mouth and tongue, or worse if swallowed.

  • Bones can cause guarding issues

Puppies can get super excited when given a bone, they can then get very cross if for whatever reason you need to take it away. Puppies very quickly learn to guard their things if you’re not careful.

  • Your puppy may choke on bones

Just like rawhide, bones are a real choking hazard. If a puppy gets a bit carried away eating a bone they can swallow large chunks or even try and swallow the bone whole. This can cause big problems and choking.

  • Bones easily get stuck 

Bones can get stuck in the roof of the mouth, or behind the front teeth, this is often very scary for the puppy and can cause them to panic. You may be able to remove the bone yourself, but dogs in pain or panicking are often quick to react in an angry manner, meaning the likelihood of you being bitten increases. 

There are much safer alternatives than giving your puppy bones, with many chew toys on the market which won’t cause you these types of problems.

dog holding bone
Photo by Mark Zamora on Unsplash

Is there any safe way to give puppies bones and rawhide?

We think there are much safer products on the market than rawhide or bones for puppies. Even cooked bones for puppies still present us with a danger which doesn’t need to happen when there is such a large amount of choice, and safer alternatives for puppies. 

Feeding a puppy dog bones can be done safely if they’re raw and not cooked. Some people choose to raw feed their puppies, and the bones that they feed puppies are raw too, as they will not splinter and are much softer than cooked bones. 

Rawhide is not a healthy or safe item to offer to pups, but if you must, give them the thickest hides you can find, and pick ones that are too big for your puppy to pick bits off and swallow. Also, do not offer ones with knots on the end as they can pull them off.

We hope you’ve got a better understanding of why we don’t recommend you feed your puppy cooked bones or rawhide, and that we’ve offered some alternatives for you to try. While you’re here you might want to read our article on making your own food or treats for puppies. 

For more common sense, science-backed information like the above, and a fully personalised training programme for your puppy, why not find out more or download the Zigzag puppy training app and start your puppy’s educational journey? We’ve got a whole team of puppy experts waiting to talk to you through any of the challenges you’re experiencing with your puppy, and they’re available on whatsapp, email or on the phone.