Can Dogs Eat Rib Bones?

Don’t be so quick to toss your dog some rib bones 🙅‍♀️

can dogs eat rib bones

If you’re grilling up ribs this summer, you might be wondering if it’s OK to toss your dog a bone or two. But can dogs eat rib bones?

Swallowing rib bones is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY because it can actually result in a couple different serious health problems.

We spoke with Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian with Paramount Pet Health, and Dr. Sara Ochoa, a small- and exotic-animal veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for DogLab, to find out why eating rib bones is so unsafe for dogs.

Dangers of giving your dog rib bones

There are a bunch of dangers that come with giving your dog rib bones to eat or chew on.

Gastrointestinal obstruction

It’s super easy for rib bones to obstruct or damage your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

“Perforation of the esophagus or intestines can occur when bones shard into sharp points,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo. “Dogs can develop constipation or bleeding from the rectum due to bone ingestion.”

If this happens, it can be fatal if your dog doesn’t get treated ASAP. So if your pup swallows any rib bones, bring him to the vet immediately.

More minor symptoms include stomach and intestinal irritation, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.

Damage to your dog’s mouth and throat

Eating rib bones can also do some major damage to your dog’s teeth, mouth and throat, including:

  • Breaking teeth
  • Lodging pieces of bone in teeth
  • Creating a choking hazard
  • Cutting the mouth and esophagus

They just aren’t worth the risk

Since there are so many potentially dangerous things that can happen when your dog eats rib bones, there really isn’t any point in giving them to your pup in the first place.

“There are no real benefits of your dog eating a rib bone,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo. “While their ancestors may have eaten bones, our house dogs have evolved and do not need to eat these bones as they are provided a well-balanced diet.”

Can dogs eat rib bones safely in any way?

If you’re hoping that there’s still a way you can safely give your dog rib bones, we’ve got some bad news for you.

“There is not a safe way to give your dog a rib bone,” Dr. Ochoa said. “It is best to never feed your dog bones from any protein source.”

Why can’t dogs eat pork rib bones?

“Pork is high in fat and can lead to pancreatitis,” Dr. Ochoa said. “The bone can also accidently be swallowed, causing your dog to have an obstruction and need surgery to remove the bone.”

Why can’t dogs eat beef rib bones?

“These bones can become stuck in your dog's stomach or intestines, get stuck in their throats or across the top of their mouth,” Dr. Ochoa said.

Why can’t dogs eat cooked rib bones?

“These are slightly safer than uncooked bones, but they can also cause many health issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea,” Dr. Ochoa said.

So it doesn’t matter where they’re coming from or whether they’ve been cooked or not — dogs can’t eat rib bones safely. So if you see your dog sneaking a rib bone at your next cookout, grab it from him ASAP. And if you suspect he’s swallowed one, get him to the vet right away.

We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.