From Spike in Tom and Jerry to Scooby-Doo, every single form of media has always shown us that bones form a large part of any dog’s diet. However, similar to how milk isn’t actually good for cats, the cartoons were wrong about dogs and bones too.
Can Dogs Eat Bones? Can Yorkshire Terries Eat Bones? Which Ones Are Safe?
In most situations, bones aren’t healthy for dogs, especially for smaller breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier. And the upsides are limited in the few circumstances in which it actually has benefits.
Even so, the cartoons did get one thing right: dogs do enjoy chewing bones. How then can you satisfy your pet’s desire to gnaw at a bone and yet keep them safe from the huge risks attached to giving it to them? This article will give you the answer. We’re covering everything you need to know about dogs, bones, and which ones are safe for your Yorkie.
Why Some Bones are Somewhat Safe, and Others are More Dangerous
Most foods either fall into the do or don’t category when it comes to giving them to Yorkies. However, bones are a bit more complicated; some fall into the do category and some in the don’t. But why is this?
Two factors play into whether or not a Yorkie eating bones are safe. The more important factor is the structure of the bone in question. When raw, they are flexible and don’t splinter when bit. However, once you cook them, they become hard and brittle. This is because the evaporating moisture brings calcium deposits in the marrow to the surface.
Eating these types of bones can cause harm to your Yorkie’s digestive tract. Meaning, cooked oxtail bones for dogs, ostrich bones, and even chicken bones aren’t safe.
The second factor is the size of the bone. Yorkies tend to swallow smaller bones without chewing them and end up harming their esophagus. In the worst case, they might even choke on them. Therefore, bigger bones are a better idea. However, since Yorkies are tiny dogs, they have weak teeth, and a very large bone can break them.
To summarize: very large, very small, and cooked or brittle bones are dangerous for Yorkies.
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Are Bones Nutritious?
Quite a few pseudo-scientists are arguing for and against the nutrition found in bones. And the contradictory data they provide leads to a lot of confusion. If you’ve been curious about the topic and looked for answers, you probably found yourself in the middle of this chaos.
Uncertainty can be dangerous, especially when it comes to dog diets. So we’re going to clarify all the misconceptions surrounding bones and whether or not they’re actually nutritious.
The first thing you should know is the nutritional composition of a bone. But since it isn’t a singular structure and has two parts to it, the bone is separate from the marrow; the nutrients vary depending on which part you’re looking at.
We’ll start with the bone part. 70% of it is just a bunch of inorganic substances. The most prominent of them is called hydroxyapatite, and it’s made up of four elements: hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and calcium.
So, 70% of a bone has zero fatty acids, proteins, or vitamins. What about the rest of it?
The remaining 30% is organic material. And almost all of it is a fiber called collagen. Grade 6 probably told you that we, humans, can’t digest this nutrient, and Yorkies can’t either. It simply passes through the dog’s body and doesn’t do much.
A very small part of this organic matter comprises phospholipids, Keratin sulfate, and Chondroitin Sulfate.
Among all this, the only two elements that will benefit your Yorkie are calcium and phosphorus.
The second thing you need to know is that eating too many bones will make your dog sick. Given the nutritional composition, excess consumption leads to your dog passing a very hard grey stool and having constipation issues. How can you tell if your dog is struggling with this condition? Keep an eye on the color of the stool, and you’ll know if you’re giving your Yorkie too many bones.
Lastly, let’s talk about the marrow. Yorkies absolutely love it since it is filled with protein. So if you find your pet putting their all into chewing and gnawing at a bone, they’re probably after the marrow.
Similar to overeating bone, too much marrow is also harmful to your Yorkie. It can cause diarrhea and loose stool. While this isn’t a huge issue for most dogs, it can be dangerous for Yorkies. The condition dehydrates instantaneously and weakens these toy-sized dogs very quickly.
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Are Bones Good for a Yorkie’s Teeth?
The process of chewing at a bone to get to its marrow is a great exercise for any Yorkie’s teeth. Repeated workouts make them stronger. And this benefit even extends to their jaw.
However, as talked about above, if a bone is too big or too hard, it will harm your pet’s teeth. You need to remember that Yorkies are tiny dogs. Even when they’re all grown up, they’re smaller than other dogs. This size means that their teeth are also weaker than other dogs.
If a Yorkie eating bones bites down too hard in search for the marrow or gets carried away and uses a chipped tooth, they will be in trouble.
Therefore, you should always be careful when giving them bones. It is essential for them to become stronger, but bones can just as easily harm them. And it is your responsibility as an owner and caretaker to protect them from this threat.
As long as you choose the right bone according to the criteria outlined before (structure and size) and keep an eye on the condition of your pet’s teeth, it will be fine.
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Can Dogs Safely Eat Raw Meat on Bones?
In most situations, the answer is yes.
Yorkies are distant relatives of wolves and have a similar gastrointestinal tract as them. This gives them the ability to digest raw meat without any complications. We can’t eat raw meat because our bodies can’t handle the bacterias found on its surface, such as salmonella. However, this isn’t an issue for our tiny canine pets.
However, there are a few cases where your Yorkie might not be completely safe. For instance, if the raw meat is old and left out on the counter without refrigeration, they may end up with an upset stomach. Additionally, if you make any sudden increases or decreases in their diet, they might get sick.
If you want to avoid having an ill Yorkie, just make sure you’re refrigerating any meat given to them. Also, stay clear of sudden changes in their diet.
Why Cooked Bones (and even some raw ones) are So Bad for Dogs
Always stay away from giving your pet cooked bones. It doesn’t matter if the bone has been boiled, baked, fried, or barbecued; you’ll be risking your Yorkie’s health and might even cause long-term problems.
Whenever a substance is exposed to intense heat, the moisture inside it evaporates. In the case of bones, this exposure also affects the marrow, which moves up to the surface and leaves the bone to be a hollow and brittle substance.
And whenever your dog bites into it, tiny pieces will break off and damage their mouth, food pipe, stomach, intestines, etc. From the point of entry to its exit, these splinters have many opportunities to hurt your puppy.
Let’s go through each point one by one.
As soon as your Yorkie bites down on a really hard bone, their teeth can crack or chip. While each and everyone is at risk, the premolars are the most common victim. If left unnoticed, a chipped tooth can become infected and cause a lot of pain. Even a fragment stuck between two teeth can inflict what seems like torture to a toy-sized terrier.
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Tongue and mouth
Yorkie mouths have very soft tissue. And if they bite on a hard bone, splinters can damage it. They can even get stuck in the tissue and cause immense pain to your pet.
At times these pieces can slice a Yorkie’s tongue. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable for the dog, but it also turns them away from other food until healed.
The esophagus is the pipe in your Yorkie’s throat that transfers chewed food (bolus) from the mouth to the stomach by tightening and loosening itself. If a sharp splinter reaches it, it can be a choking hazard for your puppy since the windpipe is right next to the food pipe.
Additionally, it can cut into tissue, cause bleeding and extreme discomfort.
You’ve probably noticed that your dog gets excited when eating food, Sometimes this excitement can lead to them accidentally inhaling when taking a bite and drawing food into their windpipe. This becomes particularly dangerous if the particle going into the pipe is a sharp bone particle.
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A bone’s shape makes it impossible for it to pass through the intestines. When it stays in the stomach, it can poke a hole in its lining and cause inflammation. Peritonitis is a life-threatening illness, and avoiding cooked bones will keep your Yorkie away from it.
Splinters can block your dog’s intestines and create a need for emergency surgery.
Bones that are Somewhat Safe for a Yorkie to Eat
Given all the information above, you know that a Yorkie eating bones will lead to more harm than good. They aren’t even very nutritious, so the risk is relatively unnecessary. You can also give your Yorkie a chewing toy, and it will keep their urges under wraps.
However, if you have noticed that your Yorkie particularly enjoys chewing on a bone and you want to continue giving it to them, there are some safe ways of doing so. The following options are mostly safe for a dog to eat.
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Ground bones are the only 100% safe way for a Yorkie to consume bones. Rabbit bones, ostrich bones, and ham bones become safe and healthy if given this way. In fact, even chicken bones, if grounded very finely, can be given to a dog without any harm coming to them.
The best ground bones are chicken and turkey since they’re naturally hollow.
Veal bones splinter the least when compared to other meats. And if you insist on giving your dog a bone, this is the safest option for you. Even so, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Raw knuckle bones
Raw knucklebones are often called soup bones and can be found at most butcher’s shops. They are one of the safest options for Yorkies.
If you decide to give them to your pet, make sure you only freeze and thaw them once. Doing so more than once will make the bones go bad and cause a stomach ache.
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Bones that are Not Safe for a Yorkshire Terrier
There are quite a few types of bones that you need to always stay away from. Giving them to your Yorkie will only inflict suffering, make them sick and uncomfortable.
As the name suggests, Marrowbone rings contain large amounts of marrow, and you already know that this causes diarrhea. Additionally, they aren’t safe for your Yorkie because they can get caught on their teeth or get stuck on the roof of their mouth. Both situations will bring your dog a lot of discomforts.
Chicken or turkey bones
Chicken and turkey bones are extremely small, and if you give them to your dog, you run the risk of ingestion without proper chewing. So even if they’re raw, the enormous probability of the food pipe getting blocked means they aren’t safe.
Hambones have a safe size and structure. However, they aren’t accessible until the meat around them has been cooked. Therefore, whenever a Yorkie owner says their dog ate hambone, they’re referring to a cooked bone, which is incredibly unsafe.
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Bison or beef hip or femur bones
A bison or cattle’s hip and femur bones are exceedingly tough. Tiny Yorkshire Terriers simply don’t have the teeth necessary to eat them. And any attempts are likely to either be futile or lead to splintering and its associated harms. Either way, it is something you want to stay away from.
Baby back rib bones – Can Dogs Eat Rib Bones?
Many Yorkshire Terrier owners question the acceptability of giving their pets baby back rib bones.
Maybe it’s because so many of them barbeque and do not want to waste bones if they can just give them to their dogs. Or maybe it is because they are so widely available.
Whatever the case, these bones are not safe for Yorkies. They splinter when cooked and when raw, so there is absolutely no situation in which you can give them to your pet.
Spare rib bones and Dogs
Spare rib bones are thinner than typical leg bones, and this size makes them unsuitable for Yorkies. They splinter even when raw and can cause quite a lot of damage.
If you’re a Chinese food enthusiast, you probably also want to know if you can give your Yorkie a bit of your spare rib. The general answer is yes, but there are some conditions. While they can safely digest a small piece of meat, you need to be very careful. This cuisine is often packed with a high sodium concentration and onion flavoring. Both are toxic to all canines, and your tiny dog won’t be able to handle too much of it.
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What to Do if Your Yorkie Eats a Bone by Accident
Whether your Yorkie picked up a bone from your plate or a guest gave it one accidentally, there are several steps you need to take as soon as you realize what has happened.
The first thing you need to do is check your pet’s mouth for any damage. Ideally, use a light source such as your phone’s torch or a flashlight so that you can find bone fragments. Keep an eye out for any sign of injury. For example, if a fragment cut your dog’s tongue or mouth, there will be blood. Or if the bone was hard, there may be a chipped tooth.
If you aren’t sure if there is damage, go to a vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
After this initial examination, monitor your Yorkie’s behavior for a while. Cracked teeth can lead to infection, but it takes time to come about, this period being anything between a week to a few months. And during this time, the smallest disruptions in their typical behavior can indicate harm. For instance, if they aren’t eating properly or playing with chew toys like they normally would, it may be a sign that you need to go to a specialist.
Second, do not try to force them to vomit. The experience will be highly uncomfortable for your pet and will do more harm than good. In the instance that they have swallowed a bone fragment, it coming back up the throat will cause terrible damage.
Next, give your Yorkie a lot of rice and bread. Keep going until they refuse to eat anymore. These food items act as a cushion in your pet’s stomach by ensuring that it has something except the fragment. Sprinkle low-salt chicken pieces or drizzle beef broth on them to make them more appealing.
And lastly, keep checking their stool for any bone fragments.
Know that it can take many days for fragments to pass through their body. And you need to keep a close eye on your pet for at least three days. There are some particular things you should look for:
- extended stomach
- reluctance to exercise
- pain during excretion
If you see any of these symptoms, go to a vet immediately. You need to tell them what bone your Yorkie ingested and when for them to give your Yorkie the care it needs.
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The best alternative to bones needs to be hard enough for your Yorkie to have healthy gums and teeth while being safe with no risks.
A lot of tiny-dog owners use rawhides instead of bones. This popular substitute isn’t a good alternative because it is made up of toxic and indigestible materials that can harm your pet.
Good alternatives are chew toys made of healthy ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, lean beef, or chicken. These will give your Yorkie’s jaw a workout without overtaxing them, provide good nourishment, and fulfill its desire to chew. They’ll do all this without risking tooth injury, diarrhea, constipation, or any of the several downsides to bone consumption.
When choosing a chew toy, pick one that is suitable for your dog’s size. Since Yorkshire Terriers are toy-sized, look for smaller options. However, don’t choose a tiny one, or your dog will work through it in no time, and you’ll need to go back to the store and get a new one.
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You can give your dog bones. If you pick the right ones and moderate consumption, you’ll probably do so without any issue. However, making the correct decisions requires a lot of information about what is healthy and what is toxic for your pet.
We’ve told you why any cooked bones are harmful and need to be avoided, which bones can be given to Yorkies, and even provided you with alternatives, so you don’t have to go through the stress of whether or not you’ve got the right bone. All in all, this article has armed you with all the tools necessary for a Yorkie owner looking to raise a healthy dog.