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Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones? Scientific Facts Behind

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A dog chewing a bone in its mouth is probably the most common image whenever I find photos of “dogs” on the Internet. This proves that the words “dogs” and “bones” are usually coupled together.

For generations, dogs can chew and love chewing bones. Bones are not only their favorite food but also a rich source of nutrients to keep them healthy. Some even believe that chewing bones can improve their dental health, bringing them strong teeth and gum.

However, some studies warm that bones, particularly ham bones, might cause potential dangers to dogs. So, can dogs eat ham bones? Check out this post and find out the answer!

Injuries from Eating Ham Bones

Because ham bones are brittle, they are broken easier than others. When being chewed, they are broken down into many small, sharp pieces. When your dogs ingest these pieces, they can get acute pain that might lead to deathly vulnerability. In fact, internal injuries resulting from eating ham bones can either come from chewing or swallowing.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has received nearly 70 reports related to illness from “bone treat” from November 1st, 2010 to September 12th, 2017. Below are some of these illnesses:

Cracked, Broken Teeth

Ham bones are normally hard, so your dog’s teeth can be cracked if they chew them so hard. This not only causes pains and urgent cures but also costs a considerable amount of money to be fixed.

Cut Mouth, Tongue, Tonsils

Your dogs can accidentally get injuries in their mouth, tongue and tonsils when chewing sharp, hard pieces of ham bones. The terrible result is infections and other severe complications that could last for weeks before being treated completely.

Choking and Esophagus Injuries

Pieces and fragments of bones – during the process of swallowing – can get stuck in the throat or esophagus of your dogs, making them gag, vomit or even stop breathing.

In case your dogs swallow the bone successfully and it goes down the esophagus, it is possible that big pieces can get lodged in the stomach or small intestines. This is absolutely an emergency situation –Surgery is probably the only way to get the pesky out.

Common Diseases Caused by Ham Bones

Sodium Toxicity

A significant amount of salt in ham bones causes severe problems to stomach and intestines. It’s safe for people to eat foods which contain a high level of sodium, but for dogs, it may be a dangerous health issue. That’s because the dog’s body cannot absorb high levels of sodium.

Pancreatitis and Fatty Food-Related Issues

Because ham bones are fatty, it can cause inflammation to the pancreas of dogs, leading to pancreatitis if not treated soon. Besides, if you feed your dogs on ham bones, it’s not surprising that he/she is overweight or even obesity which is the cause of many health problems, such as heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.


As mentioned above, ham bones are a kind of indigestible food. This means they, particularly hard, sharp pieces of ham bones or fragments, easily hurt the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. And you know what? Diarrhea symptoms with blood are extremely dangerous.


The lining of the intestine can be damaged by sharp pieces of ham bones. Therefore, a serious injury in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to peritonitis. It will be a deadly situation if your dogs suffer from unbearable pains. In this case, emergency medical care is a must.

Alternatives to Ham Bones

Although the list of potential injuries resulting from eating ham bones may be scary to some pet owners, feeding bones are still one of the best treats for dogs. Anyway, ham bones should be removed from your dog's meals. That’s when you need to find alternatives to ham bones:

Edible Dental Bones

There are several reasons why many vets recommend pet owners to replace ham bones with dental bones. Firstly, dental bones are designed to be not too hard, so they can be easily broken down without leaving sharp fragments. Secondly, the content of fat and salt in dental bones are limited to a safe level that dogs are welcome to eat without getting solidum toxicity or fat-related issues.

Nylabone Chew Toys

Another great substitution for ham bones is nylabone chew toys. However, you should take advice from vets in advance before giving your dogs nylabones which come in different types for different styles of chewing. For those who prefer gulping foods, choosing the right size of nylabone is also very important.

Note that nylabones should be thrown out and replaced if they get too small. It’s no longer safe for dogs to chew.

Chewable, Digestible Bones

Pet owners can choose some soft, pliable and digestible bones to feed their dogs. A great example is chicken wings. They don’t contain marrow, but they provide a significant amount of calcium, making them a good nutrition addition to the daily diet of your beloved dogs.

Most of all, you should avoid bones that are hard to chew like beef or buffalo bones. And no matter which digestible bones you will pick up for your dogs, never forget to keep a close eye on every bone-eating session to make sure there is no risk after all.


After everything we’ve told you, can dogs eat ham bones? The answer is NO. Ham bones, regardless of which types and sizes, bring more bad than good. If your dog is a big fan of ham bones, then you can find better alternatives to avoid unexpected trips to vets. Anyway, keep taking advice from vets to save your beloved dogs from any potential injuries.

Leave your comment below if you have any questions. Thank you for reading!

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