Can Dogs Eat Oxtail Bones?

can dogs eat oxtail bones

Can dogs eat oxtail bones safely, or are they best left off the menu? Oxtail bones for dogs can make a tasty treat, but there are risks to feeding bones to dogs. Today we look at the pros and cons of oxtail for dogs, and the best way to feed them.

Oxtail bones for dogs

Nowadays, oxtail refers to the tail of cattle. These can be bought whole or as cross-sections with a large, thick bone in the middle, surrounded by meat and fats. Some companies may smoke or dry the bones.

Oxtail bones are simply the tail bones of cattle. Previously, it was the name for tail bones of oxen. But, nowadays, the oxtail bones you see in shops will usually be from cattle. They are a popular treat for many dogs, but oxtail is also a staple in a lot of human meals, such as oxtail soup!

Can Dogs Eat Oxtail Bones?

Whether or not dogs can eat oxtail bones depends on how you serve them. Raw oxtail bones are usually fine for most dogs, although there are risks, particularly concerning dental health. However, cooked oxtail bones are much more problematic. Like most bones, cooking oxtail bones changes the composition, making them more brittle. This means they are more prone to snapping and splintering whilst your dog eats them. If your dog swallows any splintered pieces, there is a danger of choking, internal blockages, and internal injuries.

Raw oxtail is the safest type to give to our dogs. When served raw, the bone is least likely to splinter. However, raw oxtail bones for dogs still pose risks, such as breaking teeth and internal blockages. Many owners give their dogs oxtail bones with no issues, but some end up with expensive veterinary bills!

Raw feeding in general is quite a hot topic. Even veterinarians are divided on whether or not it is good for dogs. So, it’s important to be aware of the potential benefits and risks of raw bones and meat for dogs before offering it. Let’s take a closer look at the major dangers and advantages of oxtail bones for dogs next.

can dogs eat oxtail bones

Are Oxtail Bones Safe for Dogs?

Many owners will feed their dogs oxtail bones with absolutely no problems. And, if pet stores sell oxtail bones, that must mean they’re safe for our dogs, right? Well, there are a few risks around oxtail bones and bones in general, even when they’re served raw. The two major dangers are internal damage and dental issues.

Although raw bones are less brittle than cooked ones, it’s still possible for pieces to break off. And, when bones are served alone, with no meat surrounding them, there is nothing to protect our dog’s soft, vulnerable internal organs when they swallow these pieces. The major risks here are internal blockages, but also sharp pieces of bone piercing or scratching internal organs. Both of these problems can be fatal, and will likely need immediate veterinary attention.

The other major problem concerns your dog’s teeth. Raw bones are hard – particularly when there is no meat surrounding them. So, there is a risk that these hard bones will break your dog’s teeth. In some instances, owners even find oxtail bones stuck on their dog’s teeth or lower jaw. Broken teeth will need veterinary attention and will be extremely painful for your dog. This care can be expensive. So, it’s something you must be prepared for if you give oxtail bones to your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Oxtail Bones?

The previous section looked at the problems with raw oxtail bones. But, cooked oxtail bones present a different problem that we have already briefly looked at. Cooking the bones makes them more brittle. So, as your dog chews on the bone, it’s more likely that pieces will splinter off.

These splinters will be sharp, and just the right size to swallow. If your dog does swallow these bits, they could choke, or the bits of bones can cause complications further on in your dog’s digestive system.

You should never feed your dog cooked bones. And, if your dog does manage to get hold of any cooked oxtail bones, remove them immediately. Call the veterinarian for further advice if you know that your dog has managed to eat some before you could remove them.

Are Oxtail Bones Good for Dogs?

Despite the risks, raw oxtail bones do have some benefits for our dogs. Firstly, they can provide a number of important nutrients. And most dogs will love the taste of oxtail bones and the marrow within. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that your dog should be receiving all of the nutrients they need from their regular diet, particularly if they are kibble fed.

Raw oxtail bones can also have benefits for our dogs’ dental health, as well as risks. Chewing on bones can help to remove dental calculus and to improve your dog’s overall dental health, just as a dental chew would. And, as we said earlier, many dogs have no issues when eating bones, so they may just experience these benefits and no broken teeth.

On top of these benefits to your dog’s health, bones can also keep your dog occupied for long periods. So, if you’re struggling to find a way to keep your dog calm in the evenings, oxtail bones can be a welcome relief.

Can Dogs Eat Oxtail Meat?

Many dogs will enjoy oxtail meat as well as the bone. However, if you’re cooking the meat, it’s important to make sure that any bone within is removed before giving it to your dog. And, be cautious of giving your dog oxtail meat from recipes that you’ve cooked for yourself. Added ingredients, like garlic, can be dangerous to dogs, and are unnecessary. Most dogs will love the taste of oxtail meat without any added ingredients. In fact, they’ll likely enjoy the taste of the meat raw!

If your dog is on a raw diet, you may consider including oxtail meat for some variation. However, if you’re just considering a bit of oxtail meat as an occasional treat for your dog, just make sure your dog is staying at a healthy weight. Labradors in particular are just one breed that is prone to obesity. So, keep these extra treats to a minimum on top of your dog’s regular diet. If you’re at all concerned about your dog’s weight, speak to your veterinarian for further guidance and help constructing a healthy diet plan.

Can Dogs Eat Oxtail Bones?

So, as you can see, there are quite a few pros and cons to oxtail bones for dogs. It’s your responsibility to weigh these up and decide for yourself and your dog. Many owners feed their dogs bones for years with no complications. But, some unlucky owners may encounter problems the first time their dogs chew on bones.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

If you aren’t sure about giving your dog oxtail bones, there are plenty of other treats you can offer to keep your dog entertained. Dental chews are a great alternative to keep their teeth clean. Or, you could fill a kong toy with a soft treat that your dog can spend time getting out, like peanut butter!

Does your dog love oxtail bones? Or have you decided that this treat isn’t worth the risk? We would leave to hear about your experiences with them in the comments!

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References and Resources

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website