Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones?

Bones help to supplement calcium and phosphorous especially in dogs on a boneless diet. They play a vital role in the functioning of body processes e.g. bone formation, blood clotting, etc.

They act as a source of roughage which adds bulk to food promoting bowel movements and draining of anal glands during defecation.  Bones also help in scaling off plaque and tartar.

Feeding dogs cooked bones such as ham bones is usually discouraged. Such bones break into splinters causing injury, pain, obstructions and can lead to choking. Below we discuss if indeed dogs can eat ham bones.

Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones?

Ham bones are edible and can be eaten by dogs. They can be eaten as treats or as a supplement to a normal diet. Raw ham bones are preferred to cooked ham bones as they are tougher and hard to break into splinters which can cause medical emergencies as described below.

What Happens When a Dog Eats Ham Bones?

Splinters from cooked ham bones can cause a myriad of complications in dogs such as:

  1. Choking if they get stuck in the esophagus.
  2. Abrasions and injury inside the mouth cavity and as they pass through the esophagus. These abrasions can be colonized by bacteria leading to infections.
  3. They can also get stuck below the jawbones, under the tongue or between the gum and teeth which can impede chewing of food, pain-causing them to go off food, and a foul odor from the mouth.
  4. They can cause an obstruction in the trachea or aspirated into the lungs leading to aspiration pneumonia and death.
  5. Splinters once swallowed they can cause intestinal obstruction impending bowel movements and build-up of fluids in the abdominal cavity which can cause
  6. Though bones are a form of roughage, excessive feeding especially in one binge can lead to constipation and dehydration.

Raw ham bones on the other hand are much harder to break into splinters and are therefore preferred to cooked ham bones.

Can a Dog Digest Ham Bones?

The stomach lining secretes hydrochloric acid which breakdown raw ham bone fragments into soluble molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Will a Dog Get Sick from Eating Ham Bones?

Dogs can get sick when splinters cause abrasions to the mouth cavity which can become infected, cause choking or obstruct the windpipe, esophagus, or intestines.

Bottom Line

Though bones offer good nutritional supplementation and other physiological advantages as mentioned above, cooked ham bones stand at a higher risk of causing medical emergencies as compared to raw ham bones.

This is because they are brittle and can break into splinters, unlike raw bones which are a bit hard and tough.

Splinters can cause several medical emergencies that are expensive to treat and can lead to death.

Feeding of bones is preferable after meals to avoid aggressive chewing of the bones and swallowing of the bones leading to choking and obstructions which warrants a visit to the veterinarian.

Here at the DogStruggles, we receive many questions from anxious dog owners. The majority being about things their dog has eaten and if there is a need for concern. We do our best to answer the most frequently asked questions.

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Razvan is a dog trainer and veterinary technician with over 10 years of experience working with dog daycares, animal shelters, vet clinics and private dog training. Razvan is one of the lead publishers on Dog Struggles covering the latest product reviews and dog health advice.

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