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Can Dogs Eat Pork Bones & Ribs? Vet Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

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By Misty Layne

Pork Bone

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs love chewing on bones (and anything else they can get their teeth on!), but while certain bones are safe for them to chew, others are not. So, you may not want to give your four-legged friend the leftover bones from your meals, as some could prove harmful. When it comes to what bones you can give your pet straight from the plate, people often wonder if dogs can eat pork bones and ribs. Can they?

The answer is yes and no. Pork ribs can be dangerous for your dog because they splinter far too easily, so it’s not recommended that you give these to it. Here’s what to know about pork bones and ribs, including what you can give your canine pal besides those bones.


The Dangers of Pork Bones & Ribs

If you give your dog pork ribs, you could very well be looking at a trip to the vet or worse. That’s because these bones (cooked or raw) are likely to crack and splinter as your pet chews on them. And those cracks and splinters could result in your pup swallowing tiny pieces of the bone. It might not seem like such small pieces could cause any damage to your dog, but it could be enough to lead to choking, damage to the mouth and esophagus, and intestinal blockages, all of which are quite dangerous.

Without a doubt, it’s safest to avoid feeding your dog pork ribs altogether. Raw pork leg bones, however, are of relatively low risk, but care should be taken when feeding any bones to dogs.

You might’ve heard that bones that have been cooked are more likely to crack or splinter, and that’s true, but it doesn’t mean raw ones can’t. It also doesn’t mean that raw bones don’t have other potential dangers. What are those? First is the danger of bacteria and salmonella, which can cause your pup to become ill. Next is consuming fatty marrow from the bone; this can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, or even pancreatitis,1 which can be life-threatening.

cooked Pork Ribs
Image Credit: tortic84, Pixabay

Nutritional Benefits of Bones

Bones don’t offer a huge amount of nutritional benefits when given to canines, but they do provide a couple of important things for your pet.

Nutritionally speaking, bones provide a boost of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are particularly important for pups that are of larger breeds. While the bone itself doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition, the bone marrow does, including iron, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin E here.

The main benefits of chewing bones does not lie in their nutritional content. The biggest advantage is it aids in keeping teeth and gums healthy. Chewing regularly on bones can help minimize the risk of periodontal disease, which is especially important, considering many dog owners aren’t always great about remembering to brush their pet’s teeth. The other benefit of bones is in providing your dog with enrichment. Chewing on bones can help keep your pup happy and feeling less anxious. Dogs are natural chewers, and those that aren’t given opportunities to chew in acceptable ways can turn to destructive chewing.

Now you know that bones can offer your favorite canine pal benefits, but which bones are safe, and are there alternatives to bones available?

Safe Bones & Alternatives

Let’s take a look at bones that are safe to give your pup. Bones that are most recommended are the ones that are round with lumps at the end of them. You also want to be sure you’re giving your pet an appropriately sized bone (big enough they can’t swallow it but small enough they can chew on it). A good rule of thumb is to select a bone that is longer than their head is wide.

A few examples of safe bones include:
  • Leg bones – thigh bones are best for larger dogs
  • Knuckle bones
  • Pig trotters – these are high in fat, so should only be fed very occasionally, and only to large dogs

When giving your dog a bone, you always want to remember that:

  • It should be raw.
  • You should supervise as your dog chews.
  • Bones should not be buried nor dug up later to be eaten.
  • You should remove the bone if your dog manages to to splinter any pieces from it

If you feel it might be safest to just give your pet a bone alternative, though, you can absolutely do that! There are plenty of alternatives to bones available that will allow your pup to still get in some much-needed chewing while cleaning teeth.

They include:
  • Bully sticks
  • Carrots
  • Antlers
  • Sweet potato chews
  • Beef tendons

There are a huge range of durable dog chews available to provide your dog with all the benefits of bone-chewing, without the drawbacks. Some are even infused with flavor, so your dog can enjoy the taste as well as the texture, without the risk of pancreatitis!

Dog Eating Carrots
Image Credit: Bhitakbongse Lee, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

When it comes to pork bones, avoid the temptation to share the ribs. These bones can too easily crack or splinter, damaging the mouth, esophagus, intestines, and more. However, since chewing on raw bones provides some nutritional and health benefits for your dog, it’s a good idea to find a safe bone for your pet or invest in a good bone alternative (of which you’ll find many!). Chewing is a vital part of a dog’s life, so let your pup engage in it in a healthy way!

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

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Authored by

Misty Layne lives out in the woods in small-town Alabama with her two Siamese—Serafina and Jasper. She also has an array of stray cats, raccoons, and possums who like to call her front porch home. When she’s not writing about animals, you’ll find her writing poetry, stories, and film reviews (the animals are, by far, her favorite writing topic, though!). In her free time, Misty enjoys chilling with her cats, playing...Read more

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