‘Give a dog a bone,’ and ‘the patient dog eats the fattest bone’ are two clichéd sayings that have lasted a long time and also made it a generally accepted notion that all dogs can eat bones and should eat bones.
Is this a fact that we should follow many years after? Are all dog breeds comfortably eating bones and should all dogs be tossed bones every time the opportunity arises? These are major questions many dog lovers and owners have failed to ask and many specialists have likewise failed to answer.
For every dog breed, the answer to this question is different and the kinds of bones some breeds can eat differ from others. However, our focus will be on the Shih Tzu breed of dogs and their peculiarities.
Can Shih Tzus Eat Bones?
Shih Tzus can chew on bones, but only certain types of bones. Most raw bones are considered safe for them, while cooked bones are dangerous as they can puncture their stomach and intestines when they splinter.
The brachycephalic nature of Shih Tzus also makes misaligned teeth among this breed common, and this can make it difficult for some Shih Tzus to chew on bones.
Bones are a good source of minerals such as calcium and chewing on bones is good for their dental health. However, there are several types of bones Shih Tzus can’t eat and can cause damages to them. Keep reading as I will discuss further on that.
Bones You Should NEVER Feed to Your Shih Tzu
Generally, and also considering the nature of Shih Tzus, there are some bones you should never feed to your Shih Tzus because they pose all sorts of health risks that are best avoided.
Apart from any and every form of cooked bones, a few of such bones are pork bones, rawhide bones, commercial or store-bought bones, and rib bones.
One common habit among dog owners is throwing leftover bones to their pets after having a meal containing some sort of meal. While this might seem like a good thing to do, it is not good at all.
Bones that have been cooked become hard and can break apart with the smallest pressure placed on them. When your Shih Tzu chews on these cooked bones, they are likely to break apart in his mouth.
They can not only injure your Shih Tzu’s mouth but also puncture their vital organs like intestines and stomach.
Your Shih Tzu can suffer constipation, mouth injuries, gastrointestinal blockage, broken teeth, rectal bleeding, and even bacterial infections in the stomach as a result of bruises and injuries done to the stomach.
Dog bone treats gotten in supermarkets is another potentially harmful bone your Shih Tzu should not chew on. First of all, the bones you get at a store or supermarket have often been preserved and processed, and this may cause your dog to fall ill.
The Food and Drug Agency has noted a couple of complaints from dog owners after giving their pet store-bought bones. These complaints range from choking, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, gastrointestinal blockage, cuts to the mouth, and even death.
Some store-bought treats like hambones, rib bones, pork bones, and smokey knucklebones are high-risk bones. Because they are often boiled or baked alongside preservatives, seasons, and flavors which do more harm than good to your Shih Tzu.
Rawhide treats are very popular among dogs and their owners, but the fact that they are common doesn’t mean they are safe for your Shih Tzu to chew on. Generally, rawhides are made to be chewed for lengths of time and they are not easily digestible.
Although your Shih Tzu is not at risk if he takes time to properly chew on rawhides, he might be at risk if he swallows pieces without chewing properly. Looking at the dental strength of your Shih Tzu, you can decide if this will be a problem for him.
Pork and Rib Bones
Whether raw or cooked, pork bones are unsafe for your Shih Tzu because they are likely to splinter when your dog is chewing on them. When your dog attempts to swallow those broken pieces, he is likely to get choked or even suffer injuries in his esophagus or intestines.
Pork bones are relatively small so the dangers of getting choked while swallowing them are very high.
Rib Bones, just like pork bones splinter and break and can lead to choking hazards and injuries to your Shih Tzu so they should be avoided when choosing bones for him.
Are There Safe Bones for Shih Tzus to Chew On?
I bet you are already wondering how the simple act of feeding your dog a bone has become this complex. But it is all for the health and safety of your dog and your peace of mind.
Many bones are safe for your Shih Tzu to eat as well as some guidelines to follow when giving him a bone. Except for a few, raw bones are the best for your dog and they are not only healthy but relatively safe.
You shouldn’t feed Shih Tzus cooked bones because the bones become hard and brittle when cooked. Cooked bones tend to crack easily when chewed, which can cause internal injuries to your dog.
There are two types of raw bones your Shih Tzu can eat: edible bones and recreational bones.
Edible bones are small, hollow, and can be chewed easily by your dog but while this is mostly a good thing, it is also very risky.
Edible bones consist of bones of birds like chicken and turkey bones; they are rich in calcium, phosphorus, and other essential minerals for your dog’s growth.
The danger associated with edible bones is in the fact that your Shih Tzu might want to avoid chewing them properly and just swallow because they are small. Things can quickly go wrong here and can cause choking and blockages.
Recreational bones are larger and stronger bones and are relatively safer for your Shih Tzu. Recreational bones include large femur bones from bison, big chunks of beef bones, and large bones filled with marrow.
They are not designed to be consumed and digested; these bones are meant to be gnawed on by your dog, keep busy with and also enhance your this oral health.
Recreational bones are safer than edible bones because it is very difficult for them to splinter and break into pieces, thereby causing harm to your Shih Tzus.
Although recreational bones are relatively safe, there are a couple of guidelines you should follow to ensure your Shih Tzu is safe when munching on these bones.
Guidelines of Feeding Bones to Your Shih Tzu
When giving your Shih Tzu a bone to chew on, there are a couple of safety measures you must take. All of these are to ensure that your dog is safe while enjoying its treat.
- Supervise your Shih Tzu while chewing: It is important to watch your Shih Tzu closely while he chews on a bone so that you can notice immediately something goes wrong and spring into action.
- Always take away broken parts and splinters once your dog chews into the bone so much that it breaks into particles. Also, ensure that they don’t gnaw on the bone with too much aggression or bite off too much at a time because that might cause them to choke.
- Don’t feed your Shih Tzu bones with marrows: Marrows found in bones are very high in fat and can cause your Shih Tzu to suffer diarrhea. If your dog is prone to pancreatitis, he should never be allowed to chew on such bones.
- Give your Shih Tzus bones that are longer than their muzzles: When bones are longer than your dog’s muzzle, he cannot swallow them and it saves him from choking and blockages.
- Don’t feed bones to your Shih Tzu if he has had dental work done: If your Shih Tzu has undergone dental work or has issues with his dentition such as misaligned or week teeth, avoid feeding them any bones at all.
- Don’t feed bones to a hungry Shih Tzu: When your Shih Tzu is hungry, he is more likely to chew on bones aggressively and attempt to swallow it. Chewing too hard will either break the bone and lead to choking or break your dog’s teeth.
- Allow your Shih Tzu chew on bones for a short time: Please don’t allow your dog to chew for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time to prevent them from extensive chewing and injuries that could occur as a result.
My Final Thoughts
There are health benefits as well as challenges connected to letting your Shih Tzu chew on bones. The risks can be too much when compared to the benefits, but you and your vet can be the judge of that.
Ensure to conduct further research on whether or not your Shih Tzu should eat bones. You can consult a vet or dog nutritionist because what applies to all Shih Tzus might not be suitable for yours.
In the end, it is up to you to make an informed decision on whether to give your dog a bone, what kinds of bones to feed to your Shih Tzu, or none at all.
Your Shih Tzu depends on you to make the right decision for him.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.