Can Dogs Eat Pork or Rib Bones?

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: February 16, 2016

By Caitlin Ultimo

You may have seen them packaged at the butcher, or perhaps you’ve simply looked down at an otherwise empty plate and wondered whether or not to share your pork rib bones with your dog. However, throwing your dog a bone can become much more complicated than the phrase suggests. The idea that your pet can indulge in your leftover rib bone may seem like a harmless, doting gesture, when in fact you could be putting him in danger. Whether the bone is cooked or served raw there are potential risks involved in sharing rib bones with your dog that you may find are not worth taking.

Can I Give My Dog Rib Bones?

The short answer: No. “I do not recommend giving pork rib bones to your dog,” said Susan Konecny, RN, DVM and medical director at Best Friends Animal Society®. Raw poultry and pork bones, in addition to cooked bones of any kind, should be off limits when it comes to your dog’s diet.

“While pork itself is a fine protein source, the bones should be considered something that’s dangerous and should be disposed of and not as a treat,” said Stephanie Liff, DVM and owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care of Clinton Hill Brooklyn, NY.

Dangers of Giving Rib Bones to Dogs

Before you decide to give something to your four-legged friend as a reward, first make sure that it is safe for him to eat, as giving your dog a bone could lead to an unexpected veterinary visit, possible emergency surgery or even death. Pork rib bones can splinter into shards that can cause your dog to choke, and may also trigger serious damage to your dog’s mouth, throat or intestines. “Any bone, once chewed into small pieces, can block the intestines and lead to a nasty bout of constipation and can also cause lacerations of the mouth and internal organs,” Konecny said.

While cooked bones are more likely to splinter, raw bones are also dangerous and, in addition to breaking into small pieces, are more likely to be coated with salmonella and bacteria. “Even if the dog does not swallow the bone,” Liff says, “Ingesting the fatty tissue on the bone can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, protein loss and other severe intestinal upset symptoms.” Consuming pork rib bones can also lead to pancreatitis, a life threatening illness associated with consuming high fat meals.

Safe Alternatives for Dogs

There’s no reason to put your dog’s health at risk when there are other great chewing alternatives out there for your pet.

“I usually recommend bully sticks, antlers or tough, rubber toys,” Liff said. “In general, I recommend picking a size that is larger than you'd expect your dog to chew on, this will help prevent against your dog ripping it into smaller pieces and swallowing the fragments.”

It’s your job to put your pet’s safety first – no matter how cute he is when he’s begging for a bite of your bone. Instead, look for other options that will allow him to safely chew and enjoy himself and always to make sure you’re monitoring your pet when chewing.