Known for high-energy and aggressive chewing habits, boxers require daily exercise and regular mental stimulation. Without these, boxers may resort to destructive behavior, such chewing as end tables and couches. While the commercial dog bones lining pet stores are tempting purchases for owners, giving a boxer chew bones poses risks.
One of the biggest concerns with feeding dogs any type of bone is the risk of choking. Because boxers possess an extremely powerful jaw, it is not uncommon for them to crush chew toys, including bones, into small fragments. These smaller pieces can become lodged in the windpipe, causing complications ranging from punctures the esophagus to total airway obstruction.
Whether commercially produced or straight out of the kitchen, all bones carry some risk of splintering. Cooked animal bones are particularly susceptible to splintering once ingested. If a bone splinters, the tiny bone fragments can puncture a boxer's intestines and rectum, causing internal bleeding. Dogs suffering from internal bleeding should be seen by a veterinarian immediately, and surgery may be required to repair the bleeding and remove the bone shards.
Many dog owners offer bones to their dogs because they believe chewing on bones promotes proper canine dental care. While it is true that chewing on certain objects can aid in maintaining a dog’s dental care, bones are not the ideal toy of choice for achieving oral health. In fact, chewing on bones can cause a dog to break his teeth, leading to an increase in dog dental problems. Broken teeth can cause pain, infection and mouth injuries, as well as compound existing dental issues.
Use With Caution
The official position on bones from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is that rawhide bones, if offered, should be limited, and dog owners must be vigilant in making sure dogs do not consume the small bone fragments that result from excessive chewing. The ASPCA also cautions that smaller dog breeds are at a greater risk for the complications associated with bones such as choking and internal injuries.
Alternative Chew Toys
Although commercial and animal bones could be used sparingly and with proper supervision, other chew toys provide the same stimulating affects without posing the health risk. Synthetic, bone shaped toys and other rubber chew toys are popular, safe alternatives that satisfy a boxer's need to chew, and do not come with the same dangers associated with traditional bones. The Food and Drug Administration recommends dog owners speak to their veterinarian about which bone alternative toys are best for their particular dog.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jen Gehring is a political consultant and college law professor. She holds a J.D. from American University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Cincinnati. She began working as a professional writer in 2010.