Picking The Best Bones For Dogs

Picking The Best Bones For Dogs

Amy Thompson

Boredom is a common challenge for many dogs, often leading to destructive behavior and restlessness. Even if you're home all day, your pup can still experience long periods of inactivity, eagerly waiting for any form of stimulation.

One of the most effective ways to keep your dog entertained and engaged is by offering recreational bones. These natural chews not only provide hours of fun but can even contribute to your dog's physical health by strengthening muscles and cleaning teeth.

But choosing the right type and size of bone is crucial to make sure your dog stays safe and healthy. So which dog bones make the best (and safest) dog toys? We'll explore in the sections below.

Choosing The Right Type Of Dog Bones

Long Bones

Long bones, typically found in the legs and wings of animals, are a popular choice for many dog owners. These bones have a hard, smooth surface and are filled with nutritious marrow that makes for great chewing.

The ends of long bones are softer, containing a lot of cartilage, which can be beneficial for your dog's joint health.

As your dog chews on these bones, they engage in a full-body workout, strengthening their neck, spine, and overall muscle tone. However, it's important to supervise your dog to prevent them from ingesting large pieces of bone, which could lead to digestive issues.

Flat Bones

Flat bones, found in the spinal column, ribs, pelvis, and shoulder, are generally softer and contain less marrow than long bones. These bones are a safer option for many dogs, especially those who might aggressively chew on harder bones, risking a broken tooth.

Flat bones tend to have craggy surfaces, which make them more interesting and challenging for dogs to chew, providing longer-lasting entertainment. Plus, these bones are less likely to cause digestive problems, making them a great choice for maintaining your dog's dental hygiene and overall health. Always make sure to watch your dog when they're eating a bone 

Choose The Right Bone Size For Your Dog

Selecting the appropriate size of the bone is just as important as choosing the right type. The size of the bone should match your dog's size and chewing habits to prevent choking, dental issues, and digestive problems.

Large Dogs

For large dogs, bones from bigger animals like cows, moose, and other large mammals are ideal. Some suitable options include beef neck bones, beef rib bones, and pelvic bones. These bones are robust enough to withstand the powerful jaws of large dogs and provide hours of chewing pleasure.

If you're feeling adventurous and confident that your dog can handle it, you can also consider feeding them beef, sheep, or goat heads, which are often available at ethnic markets. These larger bones and heads are packed with nutrients and will keep your dog engaged for a long time.

Small And Medium Dogs

For smaller and medium-sized dogs, bones from smaller animals such as deer, goats, pigs, and lamb are more appropriate. These bones are easier for smaller dogs to handle and chew without risking injury. Suitable options include beef rib bones, lamb neck bones, and pork or lamb ribs.

Poultry bones can also be considered, but they should not be given as recreational bones due to their brittleness and potential to splinter, which could pose a choking hazard or cause internal injuries.

Remember: when selecting bones for your dog, always consider their size and chewing strength to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable chewing experience. Monitor your dog while they chew to prevent any potential issues, and remove the bone if it becomes too small or starts to splinter.

Safety Tips for Recreational Bones

While recreational bones can provide numerous benefits, it's crucial to follow safety guidelines to prevent any health risks for your dog. 

After you make sure to supervise your dog enjoying his bone. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

Cooked Bones

Never feed cooked bones to your dog. Cooking bones makes them brittle, increasing the risk of splintering, which can lead to severe injuries, including broken teeth, punctured internal organs, and blockages in the digestive tract. Always choose raw bones to ensure your dog's safety.

Bowel Blockages

Be cautious with long bones that have soft ends made of cartilage. Large, aggressive chewers can tear off and swallow significant amounts of cartilage, leading to bowel blockages. Signs of an obstruction include bloating, a hunched-over posture, and frequent but unsuccessful attempts to defecate or vomit. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Broken Teeth

Long bones, due to their hard surface, can sometimes break your dog's teeth. Flat bones are generally a safer option for medium to large-sized dogs, as they are softer and less likely to cause dental damage. Flat bones also tend to last longer, providing extended periods of engagement for your dog. Ensure you discard bones that become dry and brittle over time to prevent broken teeth.

Loose Stools And Constipation

Introducing bones to your dog's diet can sometimes result in digestive issues such as loose stools or constipation. Long bones, with their rich and fatty marrow, can cause loose stools, especially if your dog is not accustomed to them.

On the other hand, consuming large amounts of bone can lead to constipation, characterized by white or yellowish, powdery stools. To balance your dog's diet, monitor their bone consumption and adjust their meat and bone intake accordingly.

Where To Buy Your Bones

So raw bones are best. But where do you buy them?

There are, of course, the more obvious options, but here are some more under-the-radar places to buy very high quality raw bones that you might not know about.

Grocery Stores And Butchers

Grocery stores and butchers are excellent places to find bones for your dog, often at little to no cost. Many larger grocery stores have whole carcasses and discard the bones, which can be a treasure trove for dog owners.

Pro Tip: Build a relationship with your butcher. Don’t hesitate to ask for bones, as many butchers are happy to give them away or sell them cheaply, especially if you are a regular customer. Let them know what you're looking for, and they might set aside suitable bones for you.

Ethnic Markets

Ethnic markets often carry a variety of bones that may not be readily available at regular grocery stores. These markets cater to diverse culinary traditions that use different parts of animals, providing a wider selection of bones for your dog.

Pro Tip: Explore different markets to find unique options. Ethnic markets are an excellent source for bones like goat, lamb, and even beef heads, which can offer a novel and enjoyable chewing experience for your dog.

Pet Food Stores

Pet food stores are a convenient and reliable source for raw bones specifically meant for dogs. These stores often stock a variety of bones that are safe and nutritious for your pet.

Pro Tip: Avoid the cooked or sterilized bones sold in pet food stores. Cooked bones can splinter and cause internal injuries, while sterilized bones may be too hard and risk breaking your dog’s teeth. Always opt for raw, natural bones to ensure your dog's safety and health.


What bones are safe for dogs to eat? Long bones from large animals, such as beef or bison, are safe for dogs to eat because they are less likely to splinter and cause bone fragments that can be harmful. Always choose raw bones and supervise your dog to prevent any issues.

Do vets recommend bones for dogs? Holistic veterinarians often recommend raw long bones for large dogs as a healthy treat that supports dental health and mental stimulation. However, it's essential to consult your holistic veterinarian to ensure the bones are suitable for your dog's specific needs and chewing habits.

What bones should not be given to dogs? Bones that should not be given to dogs include cooked bones and bones from small animals like chicken, which can splinter into dangerous bone fragments. These fragments can get stuck in the throat, intestines, or rectum, potentially requiring emergency veterinarian care.

Can dogs eat cooked bones? No, dogs should never eat cooked bones because they can splinter into sharp bone fragments that can cause severe injuries. Cooked bones can get lodged in the stomach, throat, or intestines, leading to life-threatening emergencies that require immediate veterinarian attention.