Should bones be fed to pets?

The Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) recognises that this is an issue where many dog owners, breeders and veterinarians have diverse views on the risks and benefits. 

Dental disease is a very common issue in pets and is estimated to affect approximately 80% of cats and dogs over 2 years of age. Maintaining a high standard of oral health therefore in pets is important. It is recognised that issues such as broken teeth, infection and inflamed gums (i.e. gingivitis) reduce the pet’s quality of life and that periodontal disease (i.e. disease below the gum line) and infection in the mouth increases the pet’s risk of other more severe illnesses elsewhere in the body. 

The PFIAA is guided by the advice of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) who state that: “although bones are a popular treat that you may be using for dental care, they can cause problems such as broken teeth and gut obstructions”. The AVA also advise that feeding bones to pets may result in constipation, injuries to the gums and tongue, and food poisoning. (See for more information) 

It is widely accepted that dogs and cats should not be fed cooked bones, as these are brittle and prone to splintering, which can cause potentially severe illness due to injury to the gastrointestinal tract. 

The PFIAA recommends that pet owners seek the advice of their veterinarian. Your veterinarian is best placed to assess the degree of dental disease in your pet and will recommend and provide treatment for existing teeth and gum disease. Your veterinarian will also be able to provide informed advice about ongoing management to help maintain good oral health and hygiene. There are many specialised functional treats, chews and food products made by PFIAA member companies specifically designed to help manage and improve the dental health of dogs and cats. 

Further information about periodontal disease in cats and dogs and appropriate dental care is provided in the PFIAA Info-bite entitled: “A winning smile, oral health in pets” which can be found under the “Feeding your pet” section on the PFIAA website.