Why Some Bones are Somewhat Safe and Others are More Dangerous
There are two main elements that distinguish bones to be safe or not:
The most dangerous element regarding a dog eating meat bones is the structure of the bone. When raw, many bones are flexible and may or may not splinter off as they are chewed. However, when a bone of just about any kind (fish, chicken, beef, turkey, etc.) is cooked the calcium deposits from within the marrow evaporate along with moisture. This makes a bone very brittle; if a puppy or dog were to chew it, it could cause damage to the mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines and even rectal area. Essentially, it can cut and cause injury during the entire trip from the mouth to when it is expelled.
Size is another large factor. The smaller the bone -even if it is raw and flexible- can lead to swallowing of it in its entirety which is a major choking hazard. While chicken bones may automatically come to mind, this also includes small baby back rib bones which can be tiny enough to be swallowed with very little chewing involved. Those that are too large can break a tiny dog's teeth.
Are Bones Nutritious?
There's a lot of misconception regarding the nutritional value of meat bones and whether or not these are healthy for a dog. There are essentially 2 parts to a bone: the actual bone and the marrow contained within it. You may be surprised to learn that 70% of just the bone itself is comprised of inorganic substances. The majority of a bone is a substance called hydroxyapatite, which contains 4 elements: calcium, Phosphorus, Oxygen and Hydrogen. Within this 70%, there are zero vitamins, protein, fatty acids or any other nutritional ingredients.
The remaining 30% is made of organic material. Almost all of this 30% ratio (about 95% of it) is made out of collagen, which is a fibrous protein that dogs do not digest very well. It is not absorbed by the body and usually passes through the dog's digestive system similar to the way that fillers in commercial dog food pass through without offering anything. The rest (5% of that 30%) is made of Chondroitin Sulfate, Keratin sulfate, and Phospholipids.
The only two elements that have some nutritional benefits are the calcium and phosphorus. It should be noted that a high consumption of bone can cause constipation issues or very hard dry stools. The color of a Yorkie's stools will change if the dog eats a lot of this; there is often a gray color to the feces and if there are no constipation
problems, this is considered to be normal.
In regard to the marrow, this is found in varying levels depending on the bone. When a dog goes at a bone, chewing and gnawing, it is usually because he is after the marrow. It contains mostly monounsaturated fat and high levels of protein. Most dogs find the marrow from bones to be very delicious; there are some people who eat this (mostly those on a Primal diet) and it is said to have a creamy texture and a subtle nutty flavor with a touch of sweet.
It is important to note that too much marrow can cause loose stools or diarrhea and this is another factor that must be considered since diarrhea is rather dangerous for toy sized
dogs like the Yorkshire Terrier that can quickly become dehydrated.
While this part of a bone can offer some benefits to a Yorkie, it is certainly not the only way to obtain it.
Are Bones good for a Yorkie's Teeth
It is true that all of the chewing and gnawing that must be done for a dog to reach the marrow of bone or to pick off tiny pieces of meat that are stuck to a bone really do give the teeth a good workout. It can also help a dog's jaw stay strong. The flip side to this
is that bones can be very hard (even raw ones) and a puppy or dog can actually break a tooth on a bone; this typically happens because the dog will really bite down with zest due to the tempting smell
and promising reward. When a dog gets carried away it is not that uncommon for this to lead to a chipped or cracked tooth. This is a real risk that owners need to be aware of and is much more prevalent with toy breeds like the Yorkie since they have very small mouths and most safe bones are rather large.
We must keep in mind that with quality dental chews and proper toys, keeping teeth clean and the jaw muscles strong can easily be accomplished without giving a Yorkshire Terrier any bones.
Can Dogs Safely Eat Raw Meat on Bones
In general, the answer is yes, though there are always exceptions. Anatomically speaking, our cute little canine family members of today have an almost identical gastrointestinal tract as wolves. Most Yorkies can technically handle raw foods. The bacteria that can be found on raw bones including salmonella and E.coli are usually not a concern for canines.
With this said, there are always exceptions. Any bones given should be fresh and refrigerated. In addition, you'll want to keep in mind that any sudden changes to a Yorkie's diet can cause stomach distress. If a Yorkshire Terrier were to suddenly be given a good amount of raw food or hypothetically be given a large number of bones, this could cause upset stomach including diarrhea simply due to a fast change in the diet.