Just before midnight one evening, Emma presented to our hospital. Emma was drooling and couldn’t close her mouth. The reason was quite apparent. She had a large marrow bone stuck behind her lower fangs around her mandible. Emma’s owner had tried to remove it at home for quite a while, but it was really stuck and Emma’s chin was becoming raw and sore from the bone rubbing on her lips and skin. Emma was anxious and tired of folks pulling on this bone. She would not allow another try, so she was sedated. Once calm, the bone was finally removed, with some lubrication and gentle manipulation of the bone.
Because of the irregular shape of marrow bones, once it gets around a dog’s teeth, it can turn or twist into a position that does not allow easy removal. Sometimes the stuck bone needs to be cut off. Unfortunately, this is a common problem and usually, requires a visit to the veterinarian.
Many people like to feed marrow bones to their dogs. Dogs absolutely love chewing out the marrow and chewing on the bone itself, and It provides hours of pleasure. The marrow is highly nutritious but it is also quite high in fat. This fat content has the potential to cause diarrhea or pancreatitis in some dogs.
Even though cooking these bones might seem like a good idea, bones fed to your dog should never be cooked. Cooking causes the bones to become brittle and splinter when chewed. These bone splinters can puncture through the stomach or intestines once ingested. Without cooking the bones though, there is potential for harmful parasites from the raw meat of the bone to infect your pup. Freezing the bones for at least 24 hours will kill some of these parasites, but organisms like Salmonella and E. Coli can survive the freezing and still be infectious. Chewing on bones can also break or wear down your dog’s teeth. If a large chunk of bone is swallowed, it could lead to an intestinal obstruction, requiring veterinary intervention.
It really is a tough decision, whether to give your dog a bone or not. Some dogs enjoy these raw bones for a lifetime without a problem, while others, like poor Emma, discover the pitfalls of such a treat.