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Can Dogs Have Ham Bones? WHY IT’S NOT A GOOD IDEA

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs should not be fed ham bones, especially cooked bones of any kind, as these can break into pieces and cause damage to your dog’s gastroinstestinal tract.
  • Dogs can sustain several injuries and infections in the digestive system from broken bone pieces.
  • Although full of nutrients, bones are hard hard for a dog’s stomach to digest.

Like many pet parents, you probably already asked yourself the question, “can dogs have ham bones?” Dogs love bones, but they can easily break them to pieces as they chew. These tiny bone fragments can get stuck in their digestive tract and cause serious issues—cooked bones especially.

Media and cartoons have often portrayed a dog’s favorite treat as a scrumptious bone. However, I always tell pet parents that this misconception is far from reality. I avoid giving my dog bones as these are actually pretty dangerous, especially if it’s been cooked. While raw ham bones are safer than others, cooked bones tend to make the list of foods dogs can’t eat because they are likely to splinter and break apart.

Depending on your dog’s size and the bone’s size, it’s possible for your dog to get hurt if some of the pieces get trapped in different areas of his body. This can turn into different issues or even a disease. As a good rule of thumb, don’t give your dog a bone to chew that is larger than the dimension of his muzzle since he may end up ingesting the entire bone as he chews on it.

If you notice your dog displaying signs of discomfort or pain after chewing on a cooked ham bone, then I urge you to call your veterinarian immediately so he can help you decide on a plan of action accordingly.

Look for these Symptoms After YOur Dog Eats Ham Bones:

If you notice any of the following symptoms when your dog chews on a bone, then you need to contact your vet immediately.

  • Vomiting – If your dog chewed on a ham bone and then threw up, that is a sign that he is trying to get rid of an object that is stuck in his stomach or esophagus and has now become blocked. This is a natural reaction when your dog consumes something bad for its body. If your dog manages to vomit the piece of the bone, then you still need to contact your vet since there might be more of the bone stuck in his body.
  • Dark or Bloody Stools – It’s never a good sign to see blood in your dog’s stool, which may mean that there are wounds somewhere in his rectum or stool that are probably caused by the foreign object. Black or dark stools often mean that there is the blood mixed in your dog’s feces which came from a bleeding somewhere in his stomach or the intestinal tract.
  • Lethargy – If you have a dog that is overly tired or not as active as he was before, then he may have an infection that makes his muscles and body weak and affects his energy level. An infection can become serious and even lethal quickly, so it’s important to have your dog is looked at by a vet immediately.
  • Lack of Appetite – A lack of appetite can be a symptom for many different issues, however, it is typically a sign of distress and your pup telling you he isn’t feeling well. A loss of appetite that occurs after your dog swallows a ham bone may mean that the bone is stuck somewhere and is preventing your pup from eating. It may also be an indication of gum inflammation, infections, or several other diseases.
  • Dental Problems or Mouth Discomfort – When a dog chews on a ham bone for a long period of time, it’s possible that some slivers may find their way in between his gums and teeth causing your dog pain and difficulty eating. When bones are too dense, they can break your dog’s teeth and cause dental health issues that require surgery or expensive treatments.

Cooked Bones versus Raw Bones

Sliced smoked ham.

You need to remember that cooked ham bones, or any bone, can be dangerous for your dog—always and without exception. And they can even be lethal in some instances. Also, a cooked ham bone can deprive a dog of his vital nutrients. So is raw bone better? Absolutely.

It’s important to remember that canines have been running wild for centuries and hunting and eating raw meat during that time. Of course, they ate bones as well, so your dog will actually crave the nutrients that they can get in a raw bone. To make raw feeding safe, make sure to get your dog bones from reputable sources or respected butchers and practice proper food handling. Did you know that chewing raw meaty bones from time to time helps strengthen and clean your dog’s teeth? Grinding bones thoroughly before adding them to your dog’s meals is another good way to incorporate nutrients to your dog’s diet.

Dangers of Eating a Cooked Ham Bone

When a cooked ham bone splinters, your dog is at a higher risk of getting hurt. It’s similar to your dog eating a popsicle stick in that it can cause a serious injury that requires quick intervention. Here are some of the risks that your dog can encounter if he eats a cooked bone:

Ham and cheese.
  • Mouth injuries – Cooked bones can create splinters that cause wounds in a dog’s tongue and mouth. This results in excessive bleeding which requires immediate treatment by a vet.
  • Bone lodged in the esophagus – A bone that is lodged in the esophagus can cause suffocation or vomiting, and can put a dog’s life in an immediate danger. Also, some splinters can wound or poke holes into a dog’s GI tract.
  • Bone lodged in his windpipe – When splinters are small, a dog can inhale them and cause difficulties in breathing, or worse prevent your dog from breathing at all. This requires an emergency trip to the vet.
  • Bone lodged in the stomach: If a bone reaches your dog’s stomach, it is possible he won’t be able to make it pass through. When a bone is stuck in your dog’s stomach, he may not eat, but vomit as he tries to make the bone come out. This can lead to malnourishment and dehydration, which can be dangerous. It may be necessary for him to have surgery to remove the bone before a gastrointestinal obstruction happens.
  • Bone lodged in the intestine – Requiring surgery, an intestinal blockage can be caused by a bone passing through your dog’s stomach and getting stuck in the very narrow intestine.
  • Constipation and rectal damage – When a bone becomes wedged in the last track of a dog’s intestines, the splinters can damage the rectum walls and cause severe pain and internal bleeding when your dog tries to force them out. Your dog may not need surgery, however, you will still need to have your dog checked out by his vet.
  • Bacterial infection – Peritonitis is something you want to make sure your dog avoids [1]. This is a harmful bacterial infection in your dog’s abdomen that can happen if a foreign object like a bone shard lacerates your dog’s intestines or stomach, requiring a visit to the emergency vet.


What happens if a dog eats a ham bone?

If a dog eats a cooked ham bone and he becomes constipated, it can indicate a gastrointestinal upset when his stomach finds that it is difficult to digest the ham bone. Plus, the high calcium content in the ham bone may also make the dog constipated.

What kind of bones is safe for dogs?

There are some bones that are safe for a dog. An uncooked bone won’t break as easily as a cooked bone making it safer, as long as you wash off any potentially harmful bacteria. Large bones are also safe since they are less likely to break and cause your dog an internal injury. Beef and lamb bones are also denser and less prone to splintering and breaking.

Are store-bought ham bones safe for dogs?

Bones that are cooked are not safe for a dog, no matter what type of bone they are. The cooking process makes them more brittle, so they are more likely to splinter when a dog chews them. When a splintered bone is ingested, it can lead to internal injuries that will require surgery to have removed.

Is Ham OK for dogs?

Yes, ham itself is a protein, which dogs require in their daily diet. However, there are several other better sources of protein for your dog in other types of meat and human food. There also isn’t a consensus on how easy ham is to digest for a dog, which makes how good a protein source it is questionable. Some sources say it’s very easy to digest protein source while others feel it’s inferior to other meats and not that easy for a dog to digest.

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3 thoughts on “Can Dogs Have Ham Bones? WHY IT’S NOT A GOOD IDEA”

  1. Hello! My dog was eating a ham bone and got it stuck on her back tooth. Has anyone heard or experienced this? I cannot afford the vet. please give any advice possible anyone may have.. Please and thank you! I’m on my friends computer.. anyway thank you.

    • Oof! That’s no fun. Perhaps you could carefully try a toothpick? You want to be careful not to hurt your dog, and for her not to swallow the bone (or toothpick!) of course. With any luck, it will work its way out as she eats her kibble.

  2. Afternoon. I made the mistake of giving my dog a cooked ham hock bone. She totally ate the entire thing in under 30 minutes. Two days later her poop is part normal consistency and what appears to be chunks of powdery, soft clay. She has passed two such stools. Just finished eating her breakfast of a nutritionally dry food with beef broth. Behavior-wise, appears to be normal. Any thoughts?


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