Can Dog Eat Rib Bones? Should You be Worried?

Are you planning on low and slow smoking or barbecuing a beautiful rack of ribs? But what should you do with those leftover bones? Can you give them to your dog?

The short answer is that – yes, you can, but there are some risks, so you probably shouldn’t feed your pup rib bones.

Here is some more information about the potential hazards of dogs eating rib bones. We have included pertinent info about the different types of pork bones and meat and the possible risks for canines.

There are also some suggestions for healthier and safer alternative treats for your pup.

Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Ribs? How About the Different Types of Ribs?

Here are the potential safety hazards for dogs from the different types of ribs.

Raw Ribs

Neither humans nor dogs should eat raw or undercooked pork. The reason is that it can cause mild to severe bacterial and parasite infections, including trichinosis.

Pork, including pork ribs, should always be cooked until its internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature at which the heat kills off the parasites, larvae, and contaminants.

Plus, when you cook the meat, it breaks down, softens, and becomes easier to digest.

Giving raw ribs to your dog can cause a nasty and sometimes even fatal trichinosis infection. Still, even if the meat is not contaminated, the bone can be a choking hazard or cause an obstruction of the intestines or other parts of the digestive tract.

So, it would be best if you steered away from treating your pup with some raw pork ribs, meat, or bones.

Cooked Ribs

Feeding your dog with cooked rib bones carries even more significant risk. The reason is that the bones dry up and become weaker due to the cooking. This makes them much more likely to splinter and break into pieces, which can cause choking bowel obstructions or damage and perforation of your pet’s internal organs. Needless to say, each of these conditions can have severe and sometimes fatal consequences for the dog.

Cooked or Grilled Rib Meat

Pork as a whole is a healthy and top-quality protein source that is often used as the first ingredient in different dog foods. But it is a safe and good choice for feeding dogs only when it is lean and prepared appropriately.

While cooked pork in itself is not toxic for canines, the rubs, BBQ sauces, seasonings, salt, and other ingredients used for preparing the ribs can be harmful to them.

Eating too much salt can cause dehydration and water retention in dogs. The high-fat content in the pork ribs can cause a flare-up of the pancreas and lead to the serious and sometimes fatal condition known as pancreatitis.

Sugar in the pork rub or BBQ sauce is not good for dogs and is especially harmful to diabetic or overweight canines.

In less severe cases, the seasonings can cause stomach upsets such as diarrhea and vomiting.

Onions and garlic are toxic for dogs, and so are various other seasonings and garnishes, which we often use when preparing and serving ribs.

Still, if you really want to treat your pup with a tiny bit of ribs, choose some properly cooked lean meat with minimal or no seasoning on it. Cut it into small manageable pieces and feed the dog just a few.

What Should I Do If My Dog ate Some Rib Bones?


As mentioned before, rib bones can pose risks for dogs, no matter whether the bones have been cooked or are raw. The potential hazards include choking, obstruction, or internal organ damage from bone splinters and shards. Others include adverse effects from the seasonings, spices, garnishes, and the high-fat content of pork and infections with parasites if the meat is raw.

But what if your pup has somehow gained access to some leftover bones and has gobbled them up?

The first thing to monitor your dog for is signs of choking. If the dog is incessantly trying to cough out the bone or has problems breathing, you should head off to the emergency veterinarian hospital straight away.

Signs of obstruction or the bone being stuck in the esophagus of the pup can be coughing, drooling, rubbing the neck and head on the ground, or vomiting.

Symptoms of an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract include persistent vomiting, a painful abdomen, lethargy, or bloody stool.

In each of these cases, you should take your pet to the vet ASAP.

Even if your pup is not displaying any of these signs, but you are worried about it eating a large number of bones, we recommend that you contact your vet for advice.

The chances are that the bones can pass on their own. In some cases, vomiting may be induced to help bring the stuck bone up.

In some cases, the bones can cause constipation and other stomach upsets in dogs. In others, the leftover fat on the bones can lead to diarrhea and vomiting, which in severe cases can lead to dehydration and protein loss.

In more severe cases, the fatty tissue on the bones can lead to an inflammation of the pancreas. This can spiral into pancreatitis- a serious and, sometimes, life-threatening condition in canines.

What Are Some Healthier and Safer Alternatives to Rib Bones for Dogs?

Just about every dog enjoys chewing, but you don’t have to risk its health and wellbeing by feeding it rib bones.

Instead, you can treat your pup with a safer dental stick chew bone or a durable dog chew toy. Or prepare some frozen tasty treats, which will make the experience even more fun for the dog, especially on the hot summer days.

A rule of the thumb is to choose a chewable toy made of durable rubber or a bully stick, or other safer alternative which is larger than your pup will usually chew on. The reason is that it is less likely that the puppy will swallow or choke on it.

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