Some dog owners are surprised to learn some bones are safe for dogs to eat -- others surprised to find some aren't. The fact is, raw bones are generally fine, including raw pork bones. But cooked bones of any kind are strictly off-limits.
Feeding Raw Bones
The reason dogs should never eat cooked bones is because they can splinter -- whether boiled or fried or baked or barbecued -- in your dog's throat or stomach, choking him or causing severe internal injuries. Raw bones, however, are safe for dogs. While some owners worry about salmonella and other bacterial infections, dogs are much less likely to get these infections because of their highly acidic digestive system. Feral dogs and wolves frequently eat the bones of their prey. Veterinarians such as Ian Billinghurst argue that the healthiest diet for dogs is the one their ancestors ate: fresh, raw meat.
How to Feed
The safest bones for dogs to eat are small, soft bones that are large enough to prevent dogs from swallowing them whole. Pork bones tend to be thicker and harder bones, so choose small pork bones. If your dog is able to eat these, you can try slightly larger pork bones. Many dog owners feed bones as a treat, but you can also feed bones as part of a raw foods diet.
Pork Bone Benefits
Pork bones can clean your dog's teeth much more effectively than dog biscuits, and without adding unhealthy sugars and fillers to your dog's diet. Pork is high in protein, and dogs' diets should consist primarily of protein. Dog owners who have switched to a raw diet report numerous changes in dog health, including improved skin and coat. These changes have not been tested by rigorous scientific studies, but anecdotal evidence from dog owners is readily available. There is evidence that raw bones improve oral health, according to veterinarian Tom Lonsdale in his book "Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones." Dogs that eat raw bones also tend to have chalkier, less smelly feces because the body uses more of the nutrients in bones than in packaged foods.
As with any new food, you should monitor your dog for any adverse reactions if you try an all-bone or pork bone diet. Dogs are slightly more likely to be allergic to pork than some other meats, so if you notice skin or digestive problems after feeding pork, stop feeding it. The first few times you give your dog a bone, supervise her carefully to ensure that she thoroughly chews it and does not choke.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.