Can Dogs Eat Rabbit Bones? The Bone Eating Guide

Dogs can eat rabbit bones as long as they are raw (not cooked). However, raw rabbit bones (like all bones) carry some risks. Chipped teeth and choking on a bone fragment are two of the biggest risks with bones. Be sure to keep an eye on your dog when they chew on a bone. 

There is plenty of conflicting information about feeding bones to dogs and which ones are safe. A perfect example of this is rabbit bones..

Can I Feed My Dog Rabbit Bones?

The short answer is that feeding raw rabbit bones to a dog is as safe as feeding them any other type of raw bone.

However, how safe bones are for dogs is up for discussion.

Some say that dogs are natural meat eaters, so it’s perfectly fine for them to eat bones. Others say that the risks far outweigh the benefits and that there’s no good reason for your dog to eat bones of any kind, rabbit or otherwise.

Below, we’ll get into the dangers of feeding bones to dogs, as well as ways to minimize the risks if you do decide it’s ok for your dog to chew on rabbit bones.

Dangers of Feeding Bones to Dogs

Although dogs can usually eat bones without any problems, there are a few very real dangers involved.

Chipped Teeth

Whenever a dog chews on hard material such as bone, they risk chipping or cracking a tooth.

Not only is this painful for the dog, but will result in expensive vet bills.

The bones most likely to cause dental issues are:

  • raw bones
  • femurs from large animals such as cows

These bones tend to be more dense, making the dog work that much harder to bite into them, which puts more pressure on the teeth.

Bone Shards Lodged in Mouth

One of the dangers of feeding bones to dogs is the possibility of the bone splintering and getting lodged in the dog’s mouth or throat.

This is not only painful for the dog but dangerous for you if you try to get it out (you risk getting bit).

Signs of a bone shard stuck in the mouth are:

  • chewing motion
  • crying
  • pawing at the face
  • drooling

If you notice these signs, check your dog’s mouth. The most common areas for bone shards to get stuck are:

  • the roof of the mouth
  • under the tongue
  • along the gum line between the cheek and gum

If you’re able to easily remove it, great. But make sure you’re not in danger of pushing it further in or accidentally causing it to get stuck in the throat.

Choking

The most well-known danger of letting dogs have bones is that they can be a choking hazard.

This is especially the case if:

  • the bone is too small for the dog
  • the bone breaks into pieces too small for the dog
  • the bone is cooked, which can sometimes lead to jagged splinters instead of clean breaks

Your dog might be choking if:

  • he’s having trouble breathing or keeps coughing
  • his gums turn blue
  • he’s unable to make any noise
  • he’s frantically pawing at his face

If your dog is choking, call an emergency vet and do the canine Heimlich maneuver right away to get the bone dislodged.

Intestinal Blockage

The mouth and throat aren’t the only places a bone fragment can get lodged.

Bone fragments can make their way down to the intestine before getting stuck, leading to an intestinal blockage.

In some cases, bone shards have even been known to perforate through the intestinal wall, which is potentially fatal.

In either case, the result is a lot of pain and potential death for your dog. Not to mention the huge vet bill for you.

Blocked Stomach

If a bone doesn’t get all the way to the intestines, it might be stuck in the stomach causing a blocked stomach.

Signs of a blocked stomach are:

  • lethargy
  • vomiting or dry heaves
  • dehydration
  • decreased appetite

Get your dog to the vet right away for treatment if you suspect a stomach blockage.

Food Poisoning

Raw bones are known to be much safer for dogs than cooked bones are.

However, whenever a dog eats raw food, especially animal products, there is the risk of contracting a foodborne illness, such as:

  • Salmonella
  • Listeriosis
  • Campylobacter infection

These illnesses can cause a variety of symptoms, but the main ones they all share are:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Many people argue that raw food is safe for dogs because they’re descended from wolves. But the truth of the matter is that as dogs evolved and adapted to living with humans, they became accustomed to eating less raw food and are now less able to cope with harmful bacteria in their diets.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas, is a painful condition caused when a dog eats too much fat.

Bones, especially those with a lot of marrow, are high in fat and can lead to pancreatitis.

How Can I Safely Feed My Dog Bones?

As we mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of good reasons you shouldn’t feed your dog bones, but there are also a lot of positives to bones.

If you decide you want to let your dog chew on bones (including rabbit bones) here are a few ways to make it safer.

Supervise the Dog At All Times

The most foolproof way to make sure that your dog is safe while eating a bone is to supervise him the whole time he’s eating it.

This way, you can take the bone away if it starts splintering or once it gets too small to be safe.

You’ll also be on hand to immediately take action if he chokes, chips a tooth, or gets a bone shard stuck in his mouth.

Choose the Right Size Bone

Although all bones will eventually wear away as the dog chews on them, it’s important to choose the right size bone for your dog to minimize injuries.

Giving a tiny bone to a large breed will increase the chances of choking. On the other hand, giving a huge bone to a toy-sized dog will increase the risks of dental damage as the dog tries his best to sink his teeth into it.

Choose the Right Type of Bone

The type of bone makes a difference as well.

Weight-bearing bones from large animals are much more dense than other bones, making them more of a dental risk because they’re harder to chew.

Bones that tend to be best for dogs are:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • rabbit
  • lamb or beef (if not weight-bearing bones)

Never Feed Cooked Bones

Raw bones are much safer for dogs than cooked bones. Cooking bones will do one of two things:

  • make the bone more likely to splinter rather than break into clean pieces, increasing the chances of choking, obstruction, and pieces getting lodged in the mouth
  • make the bones too hard and dense, increasing the chances of tooth chipping or cracking.

Alternatives to Bones for Dogs

If you’re still not sure about giving bones to your dog, you might consider providing him an alternative that will keep him entertained and let him fulfill his instinctual need to chew.

Some good alternatives are:

  • Nylabones, which are made of a hard nylon plastic that stands up to endless chewing
  • Kongs, which stand up to chewing and also double as fetch or puzzle toys
  • Carrots, yep, that’s right, carrots – they’re inexpensive, healthy, and dogs love them

Rabbit Bones Are Safe – Just Be Cautious 

Whether you decide to feed your dog a rabbit bone or not is completely your decision. But if you do decide to, make sure you’re exercising every caution to keep him as safe as possible.

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