Question: We’re thinking of giving our son’s new dog a fresh marrow bone for Christmas, but would a sterilized bone be healthier?
Answer: Bones are harder than teeth, so whether fresh or sterilized, chew bones can break a dog’s teeth, as can antlers, cow hooves, nylon and hard plastic bones, and even ice cubes. Dogs chomp using their carnassial teeth, large, multirooted teeth near the back of the mouth. If a carnassial tooth breaks, bacteria can enter the pulp canal and cause a painful tooth root abscess requiring a root canal or extraction — either procedure substantially more expensive than buying a chew toy that won’t break teeth. Safe chew toys have some “give” — if you can indent it with your fingernail, it’s safe to chew. To add to the fun, choose a toy with a hollow center where you can hide a small treat. Another fun gift idea is a food puzzle, a toy that delivers treats when a dog manipulates it or rolls it around. Rope toys and dental chews complete the list my dogs sent to Santa this year.
This article is featured in the November/December 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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