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By Corinne Durand, DVM

Give a dog a bone?

It’s one of those anecdotes we all grow up hearing and believing. Truth is that any substance as hard as or harder than a tooth can break it. The FDA has even now stated that owners should not give dogs bones to chew on due to health reasons.

Those reasons are that bones can cause an upset stomach, intestinal laceration, get stuck in the bowels and require surgery, oral wounds and can fracture teeth. Teeth can fracture due to unforeseen causes such as blunt force trauma, rough play and animal attacks. But one way we can help decrease our pet’s chances of fracturing teeth is regulating what they chew on. Chew toys/treats such as bones, antlers, thick rawhides, nylon bones and rocks are too hard. The basic rule of thumb to follow is “if you don’t want to get hit in the knee with it, don’t let your dog chew on it.”

Fractured teeth are commonly found on oral examination without overt signs of discomfort. It is important to realize that our pets feel the same amount of pain we would feel if we broke a tooth, they just won’t show it the same way. If you notice a broken tooth, it should be evaluated by a veterinarian right away to determine if treatment is necessary. An exposed pulp (nerve) left untreated is a source of continued discomfort and a conduit for infection to enter the jaw bone. If the pulp of the tooth is exposed, extraction or root canal therapy is indicated.


Every year Metropolitan Veterinary Associates organizes a 5K run/walk (leashed participants are encouraged to join) with all proceeds benefiting local non-profit animal rescue organizations.  To learn more about the MVA5K click here.

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