Can Dogs Eat Pork Bones? (Read About The Dangers)
by Tudor Nikolas on Jul 31, 2023.
While we all want to share our own food with our dogs, some thing should be avoided. This reasoning is mostly due to our differences in the digestive system. However, bones is not something we would eat as humans either. So, can dogs eat pork bones?
The short answer is no, pork bones is one of the foods dangerous for dogs because they can break and the sharp edges can cause damage to the lining of the gut. Let's see why that is in more detail.
The Benefits of Bones
Dogs have an instinctual attraction to bones, deriving from their ancestral behaviors when they had to hunt for their meals. In such cases, they would leave to savour the bones until the last bit of meat and fat has been consumed.
Chewing on bones can also provide oral health benefits, such as teeth cleaning and strengthening their jaw muscles.
The marrow inside the bone can be a rich source of nutrients, making bones appear to be the ideal treat. Despite this, not all bones are created equal or safe for consumption, especially pork bones.
According to the USDA, here is the typical nutritional content of beef bone marrow. However, this will vary lightly depending on the type of animal and their own diet.
|Nutrient||Amount (per 100g of beef bone marrow)|
|Saturated Fat||34.6 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||40.1 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||3.7 g|
|Vitamin A||3.9 IU|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.2 mg|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||2.5 µg|
Source: USDA FoodData Central and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements
As you can see, bone marrow is rich in fat so it should be had in moderation, by both dogs and us humans.
It does contain some vitamins and minerals too, so it can be a good complement to our main diet.
Why Pork Bones Are Harmful:
Can Dogs Have Pork Bones Cooked?
With pork bones, cooked ones are the worst. This is one of the reasons why animals in the wild eat bones all the time, but they pose a hazard when we feed them at home - the ones in the wild are raw.
When ingested, cooked bones can splinter into sharp pieces, potentially causing damage to the dog's mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines.
This can cause blockages or perforations in the gastrointestinal tract can occur, which could require surgery or other invasive procedures. These all come with a high risk to the dog and may even lead to death due to a high complication rate.
If they don't splinter, larger pieces can also be dangerous as they are a choking hazard, potentially leading to a life-threatening situation.
Can Dogs Eat Pork Bones Raw?
In addition to the physical trauma potential from cooked pork bones, raw bones have their own risks.
They may carry bacteria such as Salmonella and this may lead to food poisoning.
So why wasn't this a problem with the animals in the wild?
Well, since being domesticated, our dogs have lost some of their immunity in this respect.
Over generations, their digestive enzymes have developed more towards being able to enjoy omnivore food, rather than just being focused on food in the wild. This adaptation improved their digestion of omnivore food, but also decreased their natural immunity to raw meat found in the wild.
If the pork bones do carry such bacteria, then your dog is likely to get it and become symptomatic. This particular infection can become serious especially if left untreated, most often due to dehydration. Talk to your vet if your dog develops any vomiting, fevers, diarrhoea or blood in the stool after eating raw pork or pork bones.
Here is more info on symptoms:
What Symptoms Should I Watch Out For?
If you think your dog ate pork bones, and you're worried about complications from this, here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Difficulty swallowing or excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite or refusal to drink water
- Vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
- Signs of pain such as whimpering, restlessness, or changes in behavior
- Bloody stool or rectal bleeding - this could be shown by a change in poop colour.
Some of these can be hard to spot, so a tip is to look for any changes from the dog's baseline.
If any of these symptoms appear, it's crucial to seek immediate veterinary care.
Even if no immediate symptoms are present, you may also want to consult with your vet if you know your dog has consumed a pork bone, as internal damage might not be immediately visible. This could become more apparent as the bone starts travelling further down the gastrontestinal tract.
What are some Alternatives to Pork Bones?
Many pet stores offer a wide range of safe, digestible, and nutritionally balanced chew treats designed for dogs. These still have the flavours and some of the consistency of the real bones, but they are resilient to splintering and can satisfy your dog's urge to chew while keeping them safe.
When looking for a suitable chew, consider the size, hardness, and digestibility of the product.
Look for a suitable size and consistency, that correlates with your dog breed and size.
The chewable should be large enough to prevent choking, not too hard to cause dental damage, and digestible to avoid gastrointestinal blockages.
Before you go...
Although domesticated dogs should not eat pork bones due to risks to their health, there are plenty of other options. Dogs can now digest a lot of the foods that we can, with some exceptions. A full range of articles on healthy foods, together with dog health advice can be found on our blog.
If you want to share your food with your dog, you can choose foods such as watermelon, prawns or yogurt. With yogurt, you can also make a nice summery treat by freezing it and turning it into a lollipop or frozen shapes!