“Help, my dog ate a pork bone and I’m worried sick!” Dog forums are full of such questions from concerned pet owners and for good reason, as eating pork bones can cause a lot of GI problems to your beloved companion, some of them quite serious.
Let’s examine these problems, see what you need to do and when you should really worry about your pet’s health.
Can a dog eat pork bones?
You’re all familiar with this scene. You’re having dinner, quietly enjoying a nice roast and there he is. Your dog is giving a masterful performance in the ancient art of begging at the dinner table. The whole works – large pleading eyes, open mouth already drooling and the paw tugging at your pants. ‘Hey, buddy, over here, let me have some of that. Looks delicious.’ You might be tempted to throw the dog a bone or someone not familiar with pet health concerns might slip him one under the table. Not to mention that dogs are not above stealing when it comes to something they cannot resist.
Is it ever OK to give your dog pork bones. The experts are unanimous on this one – No, you should never give in and let your dog a pork bone, at least not one from your plate.
Why are pork bones not OK for dogs?
It’s mainly the size that makes pork bones dangerous for dogs. You probably know you should never feed your pet cooked bones, but with pork even the raw ones can be dangerous. The reason is that small pork bones can easily crack or splinters, and your dog might swallow some very sharp-edged fragments.
First of all, bone splinters can cause damage to the esophagus and stomach lining, causing haemorrhage.
Secondly, the bone splinter or indeed the whole bone, as large dogs can easily swallow one, can cause intestinal obstruction, which might require medical attention.
Finally, there’s a real danger the bone piece will get stuck in your dog’s throat, choking him.
It is possible for a dog to pass a bone fragment or a small bone without any problems, as a canine’s stomach should be able to digest animal bone, but you cannot bet his health on that.
What to watch for when your dog eats a pork bone?
If your dog manages to get his paws on a pork bone you should watch him carefully for the next few days and hope for the best. Hoping might not help much, but watching his behavior and, most of all, his bowel movement certainly will.
Experts recommend that you try and take the bone away as soon as you see your dog with it. Good luck with that!
Assuming that the deed is done and your pet has just finished eating the yummy bone, make sure he doesn’t choke on it. Should this happen you should try the Heimlich maneuver.
Third case scenario – the meal is over and your dog is savoring his triumph. It might be short-lived and the price too heavy. Watch for signs of distress such as:
- Excessive drooling
- Abdominal bloating
- Loss of appetite
- Straining to pass a stool
- Bloody stool
When you’ve watched your dog vigorously chewing on a pork bone and know he must have swallowed some rough-edged fragments the best thing you can do is to feed him one or two slices of bread rich in fiber, hoping this will cushion the sharp ends, allowing the dog to pass it safely. Mashed pumpkin is also a good option if you have some.
Keep in mind that bone splinters can perforate the stomach or the intestines, causing peritonitis, which is fatal if left untreated.
Is bloody diarrhea in dogs an emergency?
Finding blood in their dog’s stool is one of the main reasons pet owners often run to the vet and, indeed, it is an emergency.
Blood in the stool or indeed bloody diarrhea can be a symptom of many conditions that have nothing to do with pork bones, and you should have your pet checked out as soon as possible.
In case your dog ate a pork bone you might not notice anything unusual straight away, the bloody stools can appear over the next few days.
If the stools are only slightly bloody and the dog appears fine otherwise, as in eating, drinking water and pooping regularly, you can try putting him on a bland diet like you normally do when dealing with an upset stomach. Plain boiled rice and skinless boiled chicken breast is the best diet for a dog with diarrhea and you might want to give him an antacid and some probiotics.
On the other hand, your pet might develop hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) which is usually accompanied by large amounts of blood in the stool, indicating active bleeding along the GI tract. This is not a wait-and-see type of situation, especially if the dog is obviously distressed or lethargic. Even for a dog that appears otherwise normal, you must be aware that his condition might take a turn for the worse in a matter of hours. Left untreated, HGE can be fatal. Head to the vet straight away!
What to do if the dog cannot poop after eating a pork bone?
This can happen when a dog swallows a bone pork whole or even when he manages to crack the bone into several pieces and eat them. You know your dog’s BM habits and you will surely notice if the dog assumes the position for ‘number 2’ and nothing comes out no matter how hard he tries. This is a sign that the pork bone is lodged somewhere in the intestines, causing an obstruction. Other symptoms commonly associated with an intestinal blockage include:
- Excessive drooling
- Refusing to eat
- Abdominal pain (tenderness to the touch)
- Lethargic behavior
Generally, the symptoms of an intestinal obstruction will appear in roughly 24 hours after eating the bone, this is how long it takes for it to travel to the large intestine.
If the bone is stuck earlier in the system, the stomach for instance, the symptoms will appear sooner. A piece of bone might spend a few days in the stomach without causing obvious problems and then make its way to the intestines where the obstruction might occur.
When a bone fragment is lodged in the small intestine it might determine gas accumulation and you will notice the dog’s distended stomach. Bloody stools usually indicate the bone has reached the large intestine and it’s stuck there.
As soon as you start suspecting your dog has an intestinal obstruction you should go to the vet, who will most probably perform an X-ray to see where the bone is located. The doctor can decide if the dog might eventually pass the bone fragment and if you can wait it out.
If the offending bone is in the stomach, there’s a chance the vet will be able to retrieve it using an endoscopic procedure, thus avoiding surgery.
When your dog is in a poor condition and his life is in danger, the vet will probably recommend immediate surgery. Depending on where the bone is located, the average cost of the surgical procedure will vary from $920 if it’s in the esophagus to $1,640 if the bone is stuck in the small intestine. If the bone fragment is in the stomach you’re looking at a $1,100 bill, while removing the obstructive piece from the large intestine is roughly $640.
What are the best bones from a pig for a dog to eat?
Raw bones are generally considered a good addition to a dog’s diet as they’re a good source of calcium and other minerals, not to mention the fact that all canines love to chew.
If you want to give your dog pig bones, stay away from the small ones, like those in your steak. Generally, it is recommended to offer a dog large thick bones he won’t be able to crack, so he won’t swallow any fragments. Big weight-bearing bones, like femurs, might provide some entertainment to your pet, but make sure it is raw and fresh. Pork feet or ribs are also considered safe options, but you still need to watch your dog while he eats. Pay special attention if your dog is a gulper who’d shove down anything.
When a dog ingests a pork bone or fragments of it, there’s always the risk that he might get bloody diarrhea as the rough edges damage the gastrointestinal tract lining. If your pet has watery bloody stools this is an emergency that should get you running to the vet. Any sign of constipation should also be treated as an emergency as it is possible that the bone is stuck somewhere in the digestive system.
To avoid such problems, never give your dog pork bones from the dinner table which are small enough to be swallowed. If you want to give your dog raw pig bones, always stick with large ones that are hard to chew on.