Can Dogs Eat Lamb Bones?

Can dogs eat lamb bones? Raw lamb bones, particularly meaty bones can be a nice treat for your dog. But, feeding bones (even raw bones) poses significant risks to our dogs that owners should be aware of. It’s likely your dog will love the taste of lamb bones, and chewing on them can provide important nutrients, as well as benefits like cleaning your dog’s teeth. However, raw lamb bones can still harm your dog’s teeth, with hard bones causing broken and chipped teeth in many dogs. On top of this, raw bones can still splinter. And small pieces of bone can cause internal blockages and damage.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of lamb bones for dogs. Including the safest ways to serve lamb bones if you’ve decided to offer this treat to your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Lamb Bones?

Like most meaty bones, raw is best. Cooked lamb bones are more brittle than raw bones, which means they can splinter and break much more easily. These splinters will be sharp, and can cause severe internal damage. So, you should never feed your dog lamb bones from your plate after dinner. If you want to offer this type of bone, only ever give a raw bone.

There are some notable risks and benefits to feeding raw lamb bones. So, it’s up to you to weigh these up before making a decision on this food type. Most dogs will love the taste of lamb bones and any meat on them. Plus, bones like this can offer some nutrition, soothe boredom, and help your dog’s dental health. However, even raw bones can break into small pieces, which can be dangerous. Certain types of raw lamb bone are also very tough, which increases the risk of broken teeth, and some people have concerns about the potential bacteria found on raw lamb meat and bones.

Every dog is different. And, whilst most will love a lamb bone to gnaw on, some dogs may not enjoy a lamb bone snack! Let’s take a closer look at the above risks and benefits to help you decide whether lamb bones are right for your dog.

Are Lamb Bones Good for Dogs?

There are two ways that people tend to offer lamb bones to their dogs. Firstly, lamb bones and meat can be given as part of a BARF (Bones And Raw Food) diet. Secondly, owners may offer a large, hard lamb bone for their dog to chew on, such as a lamb shank bone. Most people searching for lamb bones are the latter.

Offering your dog a lamb bone to chew on can offer some benefits to our dogs – as long as they are given raw bones. Raw bones have some important nutrients that our dogs can benefit from, including calcium. On top of this, chewing on lamb bones can be a great way to keep a bored dog entertained for a while. If you have a dog that struggles to calm down in the evenings, a bone may be useful.

And, perhaps the biggest benefit of raw lamb bones, like other raw bones, is that they can improve your dog’s dental health. Studies have shown that chewing on a raw bone can remove dental calculus in dogs. This is useful if you struggle to brush your dog’s teeth, or if your veterinarian has highlighted dental calculus as a concern. But, despite these benefits, it’s important to analyse the risks before giving your dog a lamb bone to chew on.

Are Lamb Bones Bad for Dogs?

So, the answer to “can dogs eat lamb bones” is yes, but there are some risks. The risks of lamb bones aren’t specific to this type of bone. In fact, they apply to all large bones given as dog chews, including beef, oxtail, and more. The major risks of lamb bones as a chew, or even as a part of a raw diet are:

  • Nutritional imbalances
  • Broken teeth/dental injuries
  • Internal blockages/injuries
  • Potentially harmful bacteria
  • Increased guarding behavior

Let’s take a closer look at each of these in turn.

Nutritional Imbalances

Lamb bones can offer our dogs some important nutrients. But, if your dog is already eating a commercial kibble diet, or a commercial wet food diet, they will already be receiving the correct balance of nutrients. So, offering them a lot of bones and additional raw food can upset this. Generally, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. And, studies have suggested that homemade diets, including homemade raw diets with bones, are at higher risk of nutritional imbalances than commercial diets.

So, if you’ve decided to give your dog lamb bones, either as part of their diet or as an occasional treat chew, you should do so under the guidance of your veterinarian. They will be able to monitor your dog’s health, and to ensure that your pooch is getting the right amount of nutrients.

Risk of Dental Problems

We’ve already learnt that chewing on bones can help dogs by reducing dental calculus buildup. But, bones can also pose a threat to our dog’s dental health. The bones we give to dogs as chews are often thick and very hard, such as thigh bones, shanks, shoulder bones, and so on. These hard bones can lead to broken or chipped teeth, both of which can be very painful and require expensive veterinary assistance.

Dental problems caused by bones don’t just include broken teeth. Sharp pieces of bone can puncture or scratch the inside of your dog’s mouth, small pieces of bones can become stuck between teeth, and more. To minimise this risk, you should supervise your dog whenever they are chewing on a bone. Or, look into softer dental chews with your veterinarian.

Internal Blockages and Injuries

Raw bones are less likely to splinter and break than cooked bones. But, there’s still a small chance that raw bones can break. Especially if your dog is chewing on them over long periods. And, it’s likely that your dog will consume any pieces they do manage to chew off. These pieces can be sharp, and small enough to present a choking hazard. If any are successfully swallowed, their sharp edges can scratch or pierce your dog’s internal organs and digestive system. This can be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening.

Signs of internal injuries from swallowed bone can include:

  • Vomiting and/or retching
  • Lethargy
  • Whimpering/signs of pain
  • Decreased appetite

And more. If you think your dog has suffered internal issues from swallowing a small piece of bone, you should take them to the veterinary surgeon straight away.

Potentially Harmful Bacteria

Because bones must be given to dogs in their raw state, there’s a natural concern about the bacteria present on their surface. This isn’t just a concern for our dogs, but also for us and any other family at home. For instance, young children. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not this potential bacteria can harm our dogs. But, if you decide to give your dog lamb bones, make sure you’re vigilant in your personal hygiene and cleaning routines to reduce the risk of this bacteria harming you and the rest of your family.

Increased Guarding Behavior

The final risk to note is not related to our dog’s health, but instead to their behavior. Since most lamb bones are not consumed all in one sitting, but rather over several, your dog may become possessive over the bone whenever someone attempts to take it away. This is particularly problematic in homes with young children that might not be able to properly read dog body language, and that could really suffer from dog bite injuries.

Of course, not every dog will become possessive or aggressive when given a bone to chew on. But, it’s something to consider as one potential risk. Especially if your dog has ever shown possessive behavior around their other food or around toys.

Which Lamb Bones are Best for Dogs?

Can dogs eat lamb bones of any size and shape, or are some better than others? There are a lot of options when it comes to giving your dog lamb bones. Popular options include lamb shank bones and lamb chop bones. Major issues with bones revolve around their size.

If a bone is smaller than your dog’s mouth, there’s a higher chance they may swallow the bone whole, which can cause internal blockages, or a choking risk. But, larger, harder bones are harder for dogs to break down, which can pose a bigger risk of broken teeth. If you’re thinking of giving your dog lamb bones, it’s a good idea to discuss the risks and benefits with your veterinarian. They will be able to help you choose the best type of bone for your dog’s size and particular health. But, no matter which type of bone you go for, make sure it is not cooked.

Can Dogs Eat Lamb Bones? A Summary

Lamb bones for dogs are quite a controversial topic, like bones in general. But, only you can make the right decision for your dog. Assess the risks and benefits of lamb bones for your dog, and if in doubt, you can discuss it further with your veterinarian. They will be able to offer you advice and the most recent studies on the subject. They will also be able to take your dog’s health and age into account when helping you make a decision.

Has your dog eaten lamb bones in the past? Let us know about your experiences in the comments.

References and Resources

  • van Bree, F. (et al), ‘Zoonotic Bacteria and Parasites Found in Raw Meat-Based Diets for Cats and Dogs’, Vet Record (2018)
  • Cohen, H. ‘The Risk of Bones’, Veterinary Nursing Journal (2006)
  • Dillitzer, N. (et al), ‘Intake of Minerals, Trace Elements and Vitamins in Bone and Raw Food Rations in Adult Dogs’, Cambridge University Press (2011)
  • Freeland, J. ‘The Controversy Between a Raw Food Diet and a Kibble Diet: Is a Raw Food Diet Healthier for Our Pets?’, American College of Applied Science (2012)
  • LeJeune, J. & Hancock, D. ‘Public Health Concerns Associated with Feeding Raw Meat Diets to Dogs’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2001)
  • Hutchinson, D. (et al), ‘Seizures and Severe Nutrient Deficiencies in a Puppy Fed a Homemade Diet’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2012)
  • Craig, J. ‘Raw Feeding in Dogs and Cats’, The Companion Animal (2019)
  • Machado, G. (et al), ‘Raw Beef Bones as Chewing Items to Reduce Dental Calculus in Beagle Dogs’, Australian Veterinary Journal (2016)
  • Pinto, C. (et al), ‘Evaluation of Teeth Injuries in Beagle Dogs Caused by Autoclaved Beef Bones Used as a Chewing Item to Remove Dental Calculus’, Plos One (2020)
  • Pezzali, J. ‘Effects of Autoclaving on Compressive Strength of Bovine Bones and their Use as Chewing Agents for Dogs’, Translational Animal Science (2021)

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