Why Do Dogs Have a Preference for Bones?

While enjoying a picnic at the Wonderopolis park, we overheard an interesting conversation between two canines:

Dog 1: Hey Charlie! What do you have there? Is that a t-bone?

Dog 2: How’s it going, George? Yeah, it’s a t-bone. Do you want to chew on it?

Dog 1: No, thanks! Have you already eaten the steak?

Dog 2: Unfortunately, no! It’s so frustrating. They told me I was a good boy and they had a treat. I could see the steak right there on the plate. Next thing you know, the meat is on the grill and they throw me this bone.

Dog 1: Wow, that’s just disrespectful. Did you wag your tail and give them the sad eyes?

Dog 2: Of course, I did! It’s like they don’t know me at all! It was a huge missed opportunity!

Their conversation made us pause. We have been guilty many times in the past of giving a bone to a dog without considering whether they would prefer a nice, juicy steak.

Even if they miss the steak, dogs undeniably love bones. Recently, scientists have made progress in understanding why dogs have such a preference for bones.

Research has shown that modern dogs are descendants of wolves that, in turn, descended from ancient canines that began living and hunting in packs around eight million years ago. These ancient ancestors were “hypercarnivores” with a diet consisting of over 70% meat.

Over time, these animals developed strong teeth and jaws that allowed them to consume larger prey. These strong teeth and bones have been passed down to modern dogs. Since they could consume any part of their prey, including the bones, they did so and continue to do so today.

There are several reasons why dogs love bones. Firstly, bones can be tasty and nutritious. Bone marrow is high in fat, and the bone itself, which conceals the marrow, is rich in calcium. The meat left on the bone is also a good source of protein.

Chewing bones is also enjoyable for dogs. It helps alleviate boredom and satisfies their natural urge to chew. Chewing can also stimulate the release of endorphins, which are hormones associated with happiness.

Dogs also experience dental benefits from chewing bones. As they chew on bones, plaque is scraped away, reducing tartar build-up. Chewing on bones can even help with bad doggy breath.

However, bones are not without risks. Veterinarians warn that some dogs simply do not have the teeth and jaw structure to chew bones. Other potential dangers include broken teeth, stomach issues, and infections caused by bone fragments puncturing the stomach and intestines.

To prevent these dangers, dogs should always be supervised when chewing on bones. Owners should also be cautious about the types of bones they give to their dogs. For example, experts advise against giving dogs cooked bones, as cooking makes them brittle and more likely to splinter when chewed.

Raw marrow bones are the best option for dogs. Just ensure that the bone cannot be swallowed whole. If you do not want to take any risks with raw bones, there are a variety of artificial bones specifically made for dogs to chew on, including rawhide, nylon, and starch-based bones available at pet stores.

Give it a try

Are you prepared to offer a bone to a dog? Make sure to explore the following activities with a companion:

  • Do you have a furry best friend at home? It can be tempting to share any bones you come across with your dog, but caution is necessary. Go online and read through the article “CAUTION: Bones Can Kill Your Dog—Find Out Which Ones Are Safe” to learn more about which treats are safe for your pet.
  • Ask an adult companion to take you on a trip to a local pet store. Take a look at the variety of bones available for dogs. What types do you find? What different materials are they made of? What recommendations do store employees give for the best types of bones? If you have a dog, buy a bone to bring home as a treat!
  • If you prefer not to give your dog a bone, you can always make other special treats instead. Check out the website “Recipe Ideas for Quick and Healthy Homemade Dog Treats” online. Choose a recipe and prepare it at home. When you’re ready to share the treats with your dog, don’t forget to say, “Bon(e) appetit!” (pun totally intended).

Sources of Wonder

  • http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2099&aid=811
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18767817
  • https://familypet.com/why-do-dogs-chew-bones/
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201001/why-do-dogs-love-bones
  • https://www.dogfoodinsider.com/dogs-allowed-chew-bones/
  • http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112653629/no-bones-about-it-dogs-love-bones/

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