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When it comes to our dogs, we want to be sure we are giving them the best we can. Treats are a valuable tool in training and showing our dogs that we love them. There are many choices out there when it comes to treating our dogs. It is important to know which are the healthiest and the safest in order to protect our pets. 

Bones tend to be a go-to item when considering treats, but they need to be picked out carefully. There are also other options out there that can be beneficial to your dog’s health. It comes down to deciding what is the best for your pet. You may want to try a few of the better options below and then decide. Your pet may react differently to different treats or certain ones may cause problems. Some trial and error may be necessary, but there are a lot of options. 

Natural Raw Bones 


Natural bones are very attractive to dogs. If the cartilage is still attached, they will be even more interested. Our dogs’ ancestors were hunters. This instinct is still in them. They could also be missing nutrients in their diet. Natural bone marrow is full of nutrients your dog may not be getting otherwise. 

Natural bones are also easy on dogs’ digestive system. The products of good quality have no added preservatives. 


Depending on your dog, there could be digestive issues. Even though the bones are natural, vomiting or diarrhea could occur. Natural, raw bones are also prone to contamination. 

Best choices

Only give your dog raw bones. Cooked bones are dangerous. They can break and splinter when your dog chews on them. These shards can cause cuts to the mouth and tongue, choking, broken teeth, vomiting, diarrhea or an intestinal blockage. The cooking process strips them of many nutrients as well. Never give pork bones, rib bones or bones smaller than your dog’s mouth. 

The best place to get raw bones for your dog is directly from a butcher. Raw bones from cows and bison are generally safe for dogs. You can store them in the freezer and thaw them out one at a time for your dog. Pick bones that are about the size of the dog’s head. Doing this will reduce the chance of them breaking off and swallowing a dangerous piece. 

Raw bones should be discarded at the end of the day as they are prone to food-borne bacteria.

Synthetic Bones


Since these are synthetic, you will not need to worry about any natural bacteria. They are  also designed specifically to help support healthy teeth and gums and will not stain your carpets or furniture.

Synthetic bones come in a variety of flavors and sizes, so you will be able to experiment to see what your dog may like best. They are calorie-free, so you will not need to worry about weight gain. 


There are some drawbacks to synthetic bones. They do not provide the nutrients and same flavoring that natural bones do. To make up for these weaknesses, they may include artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. 

It is very important to supervise dogs when they are chewing on any type of bone. This awareness is especially crucial when dogs are chewing on a synthetic bone. Pieces can break off and dogs could swallow them. They could get stuck in the throat, stomach or intestine and cause serious damage and problems. 

Best choices

Greenie dental chews are a good choice and approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. They are easy to digest and also support dental health. 

You could also consider a non-edible chew toy. These will help satisfy your dog’s desire to chew. 

Alternatives to bones


There are a variety of fruits that are safe to feed dogs. Apples are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and calcium. Make sure to remove the seeds and core. Blueberries are another good choice. They offer vitamin C and healthy antioxidants. 


Certain vegetables can also be good treats for dogs. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A and fiber. Cooked or cut-up raw carrots are both good options. Cooked sweet potato’s high in dietary fiber and helps with digestion. Pumpkin puree is good for food transitions because it helps with both diarrhea and constipation.

Bully sticks 

Bully sticks look like dried pieces of meat. They are high-protein beef muscle made from steer or bull penis. They are a natural source of protein and do not break down too quickly. They are a good choice because they are easy to digest, will not splinter and they will help clean your dog’s teeth. 

Pig ears

Pig ears can be a controversial choice and may cause more harm than good. The coating used can cause your dog to have an upset stomach and it can stain your carpet. There are better options. 

There are many great choices out there when looking for treats for our dogs. Make sure to supervise and monitor for different reactions. Contact us at Longview Animal Hospital with any questions about your pet’s needs.