At what age can I give my puppy a bone?

That looks tasty! But when is the right time to
introduce bones to puppies? ¹

Do you have a puppy, and you are wondering if you can already start giving bones? If so, read this article and find out as to when the right time is to give your furry friend a bone to chew.

Although dogs and bones seem to be a natural combination, you should still be extra careful when giving your little dog natural bones to chew on. Very young puppies just can’t handle bones yet. It could lead to some issues like vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, or worse, choking.

[1] Why do puppies chew bones?

In general, dogs love to chew, particularly bones. It comes completely natural to them. They do that due to several reasons. It can be for nutritional value or pleasure. It could also be because they are bored and they need some kind of stimulation.

But for puppies, they chew bones mainly because they are teething and they would like to find a way to relieve the pain and discomfort. In fact, they could chew on just about anything that they can get into. It’s a dog instinct. 

If human babies use their hands and mouth to explore, puppies use their mouth as well to satisfy their curiosity. But then again, you must know that giving bones to little puppies may pose danger, too. It is then highly recommended that you watch your dog when he chews, especially when giving bones for the very first time.

[2] What are bones “made out of”?

Bones are made of collagen and calcium. Collagen is the protein responsible for providing a soft framework, while calcium is the mineral that keeps the framework strong and hard. They are also composed of two tissues, namely cortical (compact) bone and trabecular (cancellous) bone. The first one is dense, strong, and tough, while the second one is lighter and less dense.

Bones in humans and other mammals are almost similar, especially when it comes to composition as well as function.

Some dog owners give bones to their pets with meat still attached to them and this is how they get more nutrients. Depending on the type of bone that you give to your pooch, it may have the so-called bone marrow, which is another source of vitamins and minerals.

[3] Bones for puppies 12 weeks

The peak of your puppy’s teething activity is from weeks 12 to 24. By the time your dog is 12 to 16 weeks old, you can expect that adult teeth have already started erupting and this could cause great discomfort. This is why they tend to be more aggressive in chewing.

At around 12 weeks of age, you can start introducing bones to your dog. But take note that you should only give raw bones and not the cooked ones. It is also important that you do this gradually, and make sure that you serve bones that are large enough so that your puppy won’t swallow them whole.

Chewing on bones helps ensure that your canine is chewing actively, which is quite useful in alleviating the teething process. Plus, this comes with numerous dental health benefits, too. It aids in keeping a dog’s teeth and gums healthy and strong.

The best bones to serve include raw lamb ribs and flaps as well as chicken wings. If you are giving bones for the first time, monitor your dog and see if he is experiencing constipation or diarrhea. If so, discontinue giving bones or look for another type.

Additionally, it is advisable that you give meaty bones so your puppy can get more essential nutrients.

[4] Bones for puppies 8 weeks

Many people are asking whether it is safe to start giving bones or not to their 8-week old dogs because they notice that they are becoming more aggressive in chewing. This anxious chewing can be a nuisance, and believe me, dogs that are teething can chew on anything that they can gain access to. It could be your shoes, couch, carpets, etc. And, of course, you don’t want that!

Puppy teeth may start to come out as early as 3 weeks. By 6 to 8 weeks, your dog should have all his baby teeth already, and this is what triggers him to chew non-stop. However, at this stage, a puppy may still be in the litter and is still learning to chew and even eat dog food. And take note that baby teeth are brittle. They can easily break. This is exactly the reason why it is NOT recommended giving bones to puppies that are only 8 weeks old.

Instead of hard bones, you can provide safe chews, which will certainly entertain and satisfy your pup at this age.

There are various chewing alternatives that you can make use of. You can consider getting rubber toys like Kongs, which you can fill up with peanut butter or any soft dog food. The bottom line is, you must look for chews that are specifically designed to aid during the teething process. Make sure that they are safe and pliable.

[5] What age can you give a puppy a marrow bone?

Marrow bones can be given to puppies that are at least 12 weeks of age. Like what we have said above, their adult teeth should have started coming out by this time and their chewing ability is a lot better. Not to mention that their teeth are already stronger at this stage.

However, just like anything else, giving marrow bones to puppies has its pros and cons. Marrow bones are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. They can also serve as a recreational favorite of dogs in general. But then, raw bones may present danger as well. They can cause fractured teeth, gastroenteritis, as well as intestinal obstruction of perforation.

To be on the safe side, it is advisable that you give marrow bones to your pooch as a fresh treat. This means that once your dog has eaten the marrow and the bone has dried up, you should get rid of it. Why? Because when bones dry up, they become brittle and they tend to break easily and could splinter into dangerous pieces.

Also, your dog may not be able to handle too much bone marrow because it is high in fats and calories. In this case, you can dispose of some of it.

[6] Can puppies chew bones when teething?

Raising a dog, in general, is just like looking after a real baby. It comes with responsibilities and, sometimes, it could be really overwhelming. More so once your furball gets into the teething stage. Your dog will start to chew on just about anything. And when we say ‘anything’, that’s literally everything! They can be very destructive during this time. So the best thing that you can do is to keep your pup occupied. Give him safe things to chew on. This will help him with the pain and discomfort, especially if he has teeth erupting at the same time.

You must be wondering whether it is safe to give bones to a teething puppy. The answer depends on his age and more on his ability to chew. Does he have adult teeth already? If so, then you can consider giving bones (raw bones). But if his teeth haven’t fully erupted yet, it will be better to give him rubber toys. Most vets recommend not giving anything that doesn’t bend if your pup is teething. Take note that most bones are hard and that could hurt your pet’s teeth, particularly baby teeth.

[7] Best place to get raw bones for dogs?

As a general rule, small dogs should get small bones while the larger breeds can gnaw on bigger bones.

If you have a small breed of a dog, you can consider serving chicken necks about the size of an index finger. You can also get chicken wings or duck feet from the market.

For medium-sized dogs, duck necks about the size of a carrot are suitable. Chicken thighs, carcass, and Turkey wings would be good too.

On the other hand, if you have a huge dog, you must consider giving larger bones as well, such as lamb ribs, neck pieces, and wild venison ribs. Chicken carcass, duck carcass, and Turkey wings would be good too.

For a very large dog, though, whole wild venison necks and rib sets would be ideal. All of these can be purchased from the supermarket. Or, you can contact a butcher in your area so you will have better options. You can also get the exact cuts that you require.

And just to reiterate, NEVER give cooked bones to your dog no matter what the size or age is. Do not overfeed your pet with bones either.

Closing Thoughts

Bones are good for dogs, especially the meaty ones. But you should know when to introduce bones and the type of bones that you should serve to your puppy. You must be extra careful when giving bones. Always consider your dog’s age and whether or not he is through with the teething stage. 

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by Dano