Are Ribs Safe for Dogs?

When you sit down with a pile of saucy ribs, you settle in with a huge stack of napkins and something cold to drink. It doesn’t matter if you like them smothered in a flavorful BBQ sauce or left naked to enhance the smoky flavor, ribs are a messy but delightful treat. When you’ve cleared the bones of the juicy meat, think twice before you pass the leftovers off to your favorite pup.

Can Your Dog Have Ribs?

Ribs aren’t necessarily dangerous to your dog’s health, but there are definitely precautions you need to take to ensure they aren’t going to cause any problems. If you want to give your dog ribs, it’s best to feed them raw ribs. Cooked meat isn’t bad for your dog, but cooked bones definitely are. It seems counterintuitive, but when bones are uncooked, they’re still soft, flexible, and chewy. They need to be soft so your dog can safely chew, swallow, and digest them. As soon as bones are cooked, they become brittle and splinter into shards that can be very harmful for your dog.

Raw rib meat is more nutritious for dogs than cooked meat. If you consider a wild dog’s natural diet, it doesn’t consist of cooked meat. Raw meat gives your dog the best source of nutrition, but if you’re feeding pork, you need to be extra cautious with how you store it. It’s not uncommon for raw pork to be contaminated with a parasite that can make your dog really ill. There are only two ways to kill the parasite. One of them is to cook the meat until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The second way is to freeze your pork for at least two weeks prior to feeding it to your dog.

Precautions with Rib Bones

As said above, the biggest danger of bones is the bones splintering into sharp pieces. Those pieces occur when the bones have been cooked, and they can do a lot of damage to the internal organs. The splinters can lodge in your dog’s esophagus or even puncture it. If they make it down the throat and into the stomach or intestines, the bones may actually puncture them. The stomach and intestines are filled with bacteria, and if that bacteria spills into the abdominal cavity, it can kill your dog with a systemic infection.

When you feed raw bones, you should always monitor your dog. Don’t ever give them a bone before you leave the house or at night before you go to bed. Even if dogs can manage them raw, that doesn’t mean they can’t cause problems. Some dogs get overenthusiastic and try to swallow them whole. Other dogs chew so hard on the bones that they actually crack a tooth. Watch your dog closely and take the bone away if they start chewing too hard. Cracked teeth are very painful and they have to be removed to avoid infection.

Don’t give more than two raw bones per week. Too many will cause vomiting or diarrhea or ruin their appetite. You shouldn’t ever give your dog too much of anything outside of their food or they will start to lose interest in the “boring” food and hold out for the tastier, more interesting treats.

Giving your dog raw meat is controversial in veterinary circles, so if you’re thinking raw meat is a better option for your dog, you should always talk to your vet first. Quality dog food is the best option for your dog if you don’t have the resources or time to devote to a raw diet.

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